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Disposal of soldiers' remains questioned

Nov. 11, 2011 at 3:53 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. congressman says he wrote to the Pentagon two months ago about a military mortuary's practice of dumping troops' cremated body parts in a landfill.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said he wrote directly to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta about the Dover Air Force Base mortuary disposing of cremated portions of remains at the King George County, Va., landfill between 2003 and 2008, The Washington Post reported Friday.

A spokesman for Panetta had said the secretary was first briefed on the issue Wednesday.

Holt said he sent a letter to Panetta Sept. 16 "seeking clear and definitive answers" about the mortuary's landfill practices but received no answer.

He had raised the issue a few months earlier with the Pentagon's legislative affairs office but was "frustrated by a failure" to get a full response, Holt said.

The Air Force has said the mortuary ended the landfill dumping in 2008 and that ashes are now buried at sea in ceremonies overseen by the Navy.

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