March 7, 2012
Officials at an Air Force mortuary pushed to have some cremated remains from victims of the Sept. 11 attacks buried at sea, but they were overruled by higher-ups in the military who insisted on a plan that resulted in the ashes being dumped in a landfill, according to a mortuary official.
William D. Zwicharowski, a civilian who served as interim director of the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in 2002, said in an interview that he was still pained by the outcome and wished he had resisted the order more strenuously.
“We fought the fight, but I had zero clout back then,” he said. “The decision was made at a higher level. Had I had the experience I have now, 10 years later, I would have stood up and probably just not done it.”
A Defense Department review of operations at the Dover mortuary revealed last week that some unidentified human remains recovered from the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 at the Pentagon were incinerated and dumped in a landfill.