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NJ Widow Shocked At Mishandling Of Troop Remains

How practical do you want to be? Gari-Lynn Smith’s story is one you may find excruciating. Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith was a bomb disposal technician. He died in Iraq in 2006 trying to dismantle a bomb. After his burial Gari-Lynn grew suspicious that the military had found more of his remains than were sent to her for burial. It took years of doggedness to finally learn the truth. There was more of Scott. What was left was eventually taken to a landfill. That’s right, a member of our military who died serving his country rests at the bottom of a Virginia landfill mixed with as Gari-Lynn puts it, last week’s meatloaf.


Partial remains of at least 274 servicemen are there as well. When a body is shipped home, the family is often asked in a standard form if they want to be contacted should more remains be found, or if they want the Department of Defense to make “appropriate disposition” of the remains. Since this is usually after a funeral service and burial, many families elect the latter, I’m sure under the assumption that “appropriate disposition” of the remains meant something more like a potter’s grave or a communal spot in Arlington or burial at sea or something of some respect. I’m sure the families never thought “appropriate disposition” would mean being hauled to and thrown in a landfill like trash.


I suppose you could try to make the argument that once the person is dead, and the rest of their remains already buried, that it’s a practical solution to the question of what to do with these other parts. But how practical do you want to be? The military has such rigid codes of conduct, codes of honor, protocol on how to fly a U.S. flag and how to fold it at a military funeral, etc.. It’s hard to believe the same military practicing these arguably impractical points of protocol would at the same time feel it okay to be so practical as to simply throw part of a serviceman’s body in the trash.

The practice has since stopped. For Gari-Lynn this isn’t over. Is she suing? No. Someone had to be the classy one in this sad story. All Gari-Lynn wants is an apology. That’s all. So far she hasn’t gotten one.


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