Four civilian employees at the Port Mortuary at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base were illegally punished after blowing the whistle on the mortuary’s mishandling of dead troops’ remains, the Office of Special Counsel said in a report sent to Air Force officials on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Between 2004 and 2006, Dover Air Force Base workers dumped the remains of 274 troops in a Virginia landfill without notifying the soldiers' families.
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Following an investigation in November 2011, the Air Force disciplined three senior supervisors for mismanagement of the Dover mortuary: Air Force Col. Robert Edmondson, Trevor Dean and Quinton Keel.
After they reported the mishandling of the dead, the four whistle-blowers said three Port Mortuary officials retaliated against them in various ways, including job termination, indefinite administrative leave and five-day suspensions, the AP reported.
Although the Special Counsel did not identify the three officials accused of illegally punishing the whistle-blowers, two sources told the AP they are Edmondson, Dean and Keel.
"We expect the Air Force will now take appropriate steps to discipline the wrongdoers and deter future acts of retaliation," Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in a statement, according to Fox News.
According to Fox News, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said in a statement that he and the Air Force's top officer, Gen. Norton Schwartz, "believe strongly there is no place for reprisal in the Air Force. Reprisals against employees are unethical and illegal and counter to Air Force core values."
Donley said a two-star general will review the Special Counsel’s findings and take "appropriate action,” Fox News reported.
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