Honoring soldiers ashes at a King George County landfill - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Honoring soldiers ashes at a King George County landfill

A special memorial service was held in King George County honoring fallen service members.

Gari-lynn Smith said the Dover Air Force Mortuary quietly classified her husband's ashes and those from hundreds of other service men and women as medical waste. The outrage prompted King George County officials to do all they could to give proper respect to American heroes.

A roadside bomb killed Smith's husband, Sgt. Scott Smith, in Iraq in 2006.

"His body was dismembered," said Smith. "He lost his limbs and some of those remains came back."

Smith pressed the Dover Air Force Mortuary to find out the whereabouts of the rest of his body.

She said the military had initially promised to make "appropriate disposition."

"I was told nothing at first," said Smith. "Nobody would respond to me. We never believed that appropriate disposition could even translate into a landfill."

Smith said she was disgusted to learn that ashes from her husband, and potentially thousands of other service members, were dumped at the King George County landfill.

Sgt. Scott Smith is one of 274 known troops whose ashes were brought there.

Many remain nameless.

King George County landfill officials said they had no idea.

"We get hundreds of thousands of tons of industrial ash, and that was what this ash, unfortunately, was marked as," said  the District Manager of the King George Landfill, Thomas Cue. 

Gari-lynn Smith found solace at the spot where her husband's ashes were likely buried.

"I was able to leave some letters there for Scott and for all of those who are only known for their sacrifice," said Smith. "I'll never know their names."

The county unveiled a plaque honoring those service members who gave everything and were placed with disposed trash.

"It wasn't a fitting burial, but this is a fitting memorial," said Smith.

The military stopped dumping ashes at the landfill in 2008.

The defense department admitted that some of the remains from the 9/11 victims also ended up in the landfill as well.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly