The Air Force mortuary that receives America's fallen soldiers and prepares them for burial lost portions of human remains at least twice in the past two years.
That's the big takeaway from a year-long investigation that found "gross mismanagement" at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary after whistleblowers reported lax supervision, shoddy inventory controls and, in the words of the Washington Post, "horror stories of lost body parts."
As a result of the investigation, three Air Force officials -- the former mortuary commander and two other senior officials -- have been disciplined, but not fired.
The Dover mortuary receives all fallen U.S. soldiers from foreign battlefields, identifies them, autopsies them and ultimately prepares them for burial. The Air Force inspector general found no violations of law or regulation in any of the incidents, but he nonetheless cited a series of failures by top officials.
More from the Associated Press:
One of the two cases of missing parts was in April 2009. It involved fragments of ankle bone embedded in human tissue associated with two crew members recovered from an Air Force F-15 fighter that crashed in Afghanistan. The labeled plastic bag containing this portion of remains was found empty during normal processing, with a slit in the side of the bag. Staff members were unable to account for the missing piece.
The other instance was in July 2009 and involved a piece of human tissue an inch or two in length associated with a soldier killed in Afghanistan. As in the April case, the bag containing the piece was found empty, with a slit in its side. The piece of missing tissue was never located.
Officials said that in no cases do they suspect foul play, criminal acts or deliberate mishandling of the missing pieces.