Another mystery grave at Arlington

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An engineering technician who works on burials at Arlington National Cemetery provided a startling sworn statement about misplaced remains at the cemetery to an Army investigating officer in late July.

The Army launched an internal investigation last summer after Salon began exposing burial errors at the cemetery, including a fiasco in May 2003 in which the cemetery went to bury a Navy captain in grave 449 of section 68 of the cemetery, only to find unknown, unmarked remains already there.

“Have there been any other discoveries of casketed remains in what could be considered unoccupied, unmarked gravesites?” the investigating officer asked the technician, who was under oath. The Army released that sworn statement Nov. 13, along with the rest of the investigation.

“Yes,” the technician answered. The technician then divulged that in January of this year, workers also went to bury someone in grave 1186 in section 42 of the cemetery – supposedly an empty grave – only to find another unmarked casket there also. “There was a casket in the plot that the operator had excavated when preparing for the daily funeral at site 1186,” he told the officer. (The Army blacked out most of the cemetery workers' names in the report.)

Five days later, the officer interviewed another cemetery employee involved in burials. “Do you have any knowledge of equipment operators discovering a casket in section 42 in January 2009?” the officer asked, referencing the grave that was supposed to be empty at that time. “Yes,” the employee responded.

The officer asked what the employee saw in that grave, 1186, after workers had begun digging in the supposedly empty plot. The employee responded, “A half open grave with a casket.”

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