Pentagon Monitors Air Force Review of Dover Mortuary

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta has direct­ed that the Air Force report back to him in 30 days on dis­ci­pli­nary action tak­en against employ­ees at the Dover Port Mor­tu­ary in Delaware.

Panet­ta asked Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael B. Don­ley to update him on the Air Force review of dis­ci­pli­nary action tak­en against employ­ees who last year filed com­plaints about how some ser­vice mem­ber remains were han­dled at the facil­i­ty, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle told reporters today.

The Air Force inspec­tor gen­er­al and the U.S. Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel — an inde­pen­dent fed­er­al “watch­dog” agency — inves­ti­gat­ed the charges. A for­mer com­man­der and two oth­er mor­tu­ary offi­cials were dis­ci­plined as a result of the inves­ti­ga­tion, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said.

The Air Force imple­ment­ed mul­ti­ple cor­rec­tive actions as a result of the inves­ti­ga­tion, offi­cials said.

Lit­tle not­ed the Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel also is review­ing past dis­ci­pli­nary actions and cur­rent pro­ce­dures at the mor­tu­ary. The OSC’s work is still ongo­ing, and the Air Force report will pro­ceed in par­al­lel, the press sec­re­tary added.

“The Air Force report won’t and shouldn’t go final until the OSC report is com­plete,” Lit­tle said.

Dur­ing a Nov. 10 news con­fer­ence, Panet­ta said he wants spe­cial atten­tion paid to pos­si­ble man­age­ment reprisals tak­en against those employ­ees.

“As some­one who vot­ed for the whistle­blow­er leg­is­la­tion, I direct­ed Sec­re­tary Don­ley to report back to me … to ensure that all appro­pri­ate action has been tak­en,” Panet­ta said.

The defense sec­re­tary also empha­sized that one of the military’s most pro­found oblig­a­tions is to treat ser­vice mem­bers’ remains with dig­ni­ty and respect.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)