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Posted at 4:38 PM ET, 06/10/2010

Arlington graves unmarked, misidentified

By Washington Post editors

UPDATED:

Army investigators at Arlington Cemetery have found what appear to be over 100 unmarked graves, scores of apparently empty graves marked with headstones, and at least four burial urns that had been inadvertently unearthed and dumped in the cemetery’s “spoils” area where excess grave dirt is stored.

They found a “dysfunctional” and chaotic management system, poisoned by bitterness between the superintendent and a top subordinate and hobbled by antiquated record keeping.

As a result the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, on Thursday announced a series of sweeping reforms at the nation’s most hallowed cemetery that included a reprimand for the outgoing superintendent, John C. Metzler Jr., and the establishment of a new Army cemeteries director to oversee operations there and continue the investigation.

In addition, the cemetery’s deputy superintendent, who was responsible for day-to-day operations at the cemetery, was placed on administrative leave. Metzler, 62, who has been superintendent for 19 years, as was his father before him, announced May 5 that he was retiring as of July 2.

Last Nov. 13, the Army launched an inspector general’s probe into what Army Secretary John McHugh called the "lost accountability" of some graves, as well as poor record-keeping and other issues.

The probe, which came after Salon.com reported what it said was a stark series of cemetery blunders -- including the temporary burial of one veteran’s remains in the occupied grave of another and the discovery of an urn containing cremated remains that was dumped in piles of excess grave dirt.

The cemetery, which surrounds Arlington House, once the home of Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee, has an average of 27 funerals each workday and about a hundred funerals a week. More than 300,000 people are buried there, including two presidents, scores of generals and admirals, and tens of thousands of men and women who served in the U.S. military and their spouses and children.

Read the Army's report here.

Get details on the reprimand here.

Stay with Postlocal.com

-- Michael E. Ruane


2:49 p.m.

The Army says there are more than 200 graves at Arlington National Cemetery that have been misidentified or unidentified.

They are establishing a new post, Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries program. It will be headed by Kathryn Condon, who will be placed over the current superintendent John Metzler. Metzler, who is retiring July 2, will receive a letter of reprimand from the Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

Metzler's deputy superintendent has been placed on administrative leave while further investigation continues.

Read the report here.

Get details on the reprimand here.

And stay with Postlocal.com for more details.

-- Michael E. Ruane


[This post has been updated]

* AP: Problem with grave IDs at Arlington *

The Department of the Army has announced that it will release details Thursday afternoon of a six-month investigation into management and operations at Arlington National Cemetery.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh will host a briefing at the Pentagon to discuss the findings and actions he will undertake, the Army said Thursday morning.

Last month, John C. Metzler Jr., the cemetery’s longtime superintendent, announced his retirement, effective July 2

Metzler, 62, has headed the nation’s hallowed cemetery for 19 years. His father had held the job before him, from 1951 to 1972.

Last Nov. 13, the Army launched an inspector general’s probe into what Army Secretary John McHugh called the "lost accountability" of some graves, as well as poor record-keeping and other issues.

The probe, which came after Salon.com reported what it said was a stark series of cemetery blunders -- including the temporary burial of one veteran’s remains in the occupied grave of another and the discovery of an urn containing cremated remains that was dumped in piles of excess grave dirt.

The cemetery, which surrounds Arlington House, once the home of Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee, has an average of 27 funerals each workday and about a hundred funerals a week. More than 300,000 people are buried there, including two presidents, scores of generals and admirals, and tens of thousands of men and women who served in the U.S. military and their spouses and children.

-- Michael E. Ruane

By Washington Post editors  | June 10, 2010; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  DC, Maryland, Virginia  | Tags:  arlington cemetery, pentagon  
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Comments

This is EITHER because:

BUSH didn't allow pictures
OR
Obama did.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | June 10, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

If this is the case; how do we know that the persons entombed as the "unknowns" are actually unknown? The actual "unknown" could have been interred as a "known."
How Rumsfeldian....

Posted by: CubsFan | June 10, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse


Barry couldn't find his way around Arlington either, so he wound up going to Chicago instead.

Posted by: screwjob16 | June 10, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How could the Pentagon possibly screw this up. They have one body, one grave and one headstone. But they have. It's obviously not just the top brass, but lower down management as well. They need to clean this out root and branch, and start over. Fire the lot.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | June 10, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

What can we do if we have loved ones buried at Arlington? How are we supposed to be sure that they are in the correct resting place? I am appalled.

Posted by: kersl | June 10, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

How can the bums that ran the cemetery be allowed to resign. They should have been fired in public. Then shot ...

Posted by: mitlen | June 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

How can the bums that ran the cemetery be allowed to resign? They should have been fired in public. Then put in jail ..

Posted by: mitlen | June 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

And people really want these idiots in charge of our health care? They'll kill us all!

Posted by: garys_opinion | June 10, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Is there some reason why the News Media and US Army have apparently lost the ability to say "Thurmond Higginbotham"??

I may be wrong but this slow motion trainwreck seems to have ran off the rails back 2 years ago , with the firing of PR spokewoman Gina Gray.

Who evidently knew where the bodies were buried --including the unmarked ones, heh heh.

Posted by: DonWilliams1 | June 10, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

WHO CARES?

They're all dead. Can we concentrate on important things like equalizing the income in America?

Posted by: mitt1968 | June 10, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Or should I say, "misplaced"?

Posted by: DonWilliams1 | June 10, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Jack Metzler is now, and has always been, a man of honor and integrity. Before casting stones, take a look at when the errors found took place. Most of the "missing" and unmarked remains are from civil war burials. If you are going to pass judgement at least read the IG report and recommendations first, rather than relying on less than reliable sources. Jack Metzler has always shown the utmost respect for his role, he has aided many families during a stressful time and has always acted with compassion.

Posted by: sherrygard | June 10, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Jack Metzler is now, and has always been, a man of honor and integrity. Before casting stones, take a look at when the errors found took place. Most of the "missing" and unmarked remains are from civil war burials. If you are going to pass judgement at least read the IG report and recommendations first, rather than relying on less than reliable sources. Jack Metzler has always shown the utmost respect for his role, he has aided many families during a stressful time and has always acted with compassion.

Posted by: sherrygard | June 10, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Jack Metzler is now, and has always been, a man of honor and integrity. Before casting stones, take a look at when the errors found took place. Most of the "missing" and unmarked remains are from civil war burials. If you are going to pass judgement at least read the IG report and recommendations first, rather than relying on less than reliable sources. Jack Metzler has always shown the utmost respect for his role, he has aided many families during a stressful time and has always acted with compassion.

Posted by: sherrygard | June 10, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Jack Metzler is now, and has always been, a man of honor and integrity. Before casting stones, take a look at when the errors found took place. Most of the "missing" and unmarked remains are from civil war burials. If you are going to pass judgement at least read the IG report and recommendations first, rather than relying on less than reliable sources. Jack Metzler has always shown the utmost respect for his role, he has aided many families during a stressful time and has always acted with compassion.

Posted by: sherrygard | June 10, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Jack Metzler is now, and has always been, a man of honor and integrity. Before casting stones, take a look at when the errors found took place. Most of the "missing" and unmarked remains are from civil war burials. If you are going to pass judgement at least read the IG report and recommendations first, rather than relying on less than reliable sources. Jack Metzler has always shown the utmost respect for his role, he has aided many families during a stressful time and has always acted with compassion.

Posted by: sherrygard | June 10, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

@mitt1968

If that's your son burdied there, would you still not care? Or your father or grandfather? Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you are an American? You may be the very descendant of those that are lying in Arlington who died fighting for your freedom.

Do you still not care?

Posted by: Radcliffe1 | June 10, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

This is an issue that should transcend politics. ANYONE who knowingly did something to desecrate our war dead does not deserve any sympathy.

Posted by: psst_limbaugh_keep-ranting_satan | June 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Two years after a public expose and a PR spokeswoman getting fired for telling the truth, there is some light finally shed on these civilians who refused to adapt and evolve.

The military only can move so fast!

Posted by: Badger21 | June 10, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

It turns out J.P. Getty may have been a Nazi;
His family even goes back to Germany.
With Hitler, Goring & Goebbels he did stand;
While trying to undermine the American land!
For paintings & artifacts he did receive
With his oil he was able to deceive!
Hoover & the FBI & Roosevelt they knew
That J.P. Getty & espionage he drew!
Many a young lad and Jew did die
As planes dropped bombs from the sky.
For years while Getty sat in Berlin
He may have committed many a sin.
The ashes and smoke from the chimneys it rose
While old man Getty sat cozy; he chose.
With artwork held tightly under his arm
Still dripping in blood -- as the real owner met harm.
Into the ovens & on meat-hooks, bullets between the eyes
Listen very carefully you can still hear their cries!
While the Gettys sit in England; at their estate at Wormsley
And Gordon sings in San Francisco
With his 727 in tow.
The Getty museum sits atop Malibu
While the corpses of World War 2 scream -- J.P. Getty -- We know you!

An employee at the Getty owned Pierre Hotel in New York City wondered why there were so many Germans being hired and staying at The Pierre during World War II. He called the FBI and the FBI charged J.P. Getty with Espionage; FBI File 100.1202, June 26, 1940. 2003 documents declassified by UK Warfare Ministry reveal that in Oct. 1941 the pro-Nazi Jean Paul Getty employed and lodged Nazis at his Pierre Hotel in New York City; Nazis who were involved in spying on and sabotaging Allied Forces’ war production plants. 43,000 people were killed in the UK while J. Paul Getty was in Berlin still shipping oil to Hitler five months before Pearl Harbor; December 7, 1941. As aristocrats with treasures of art were executed -- beginning in 1933 -- with the outbreak of war; Getty assiduously added to his vast collection with the Nazis.
J.P. Getty’s own words from the autobiography AS I SEE IT … ” In 1938 I heard that the great Mensing Collection was being broken up. I immediately contacted the dealer through whom I made my art purchases in the Netherlands. Although the imminence of war in Europe had dropped the bottom out of art prices I authorised the dealer to bid up to $100,000 for Martin Looten by Rembrandt.” … The Rembrandt hangs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Gainsborough of Christie purchased in 1938 is at The Getty.

Posted by: MacDonald1 | June 10, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

This has to be one of the most heinous insults ever perpetrated on our soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. Although the residents are dead, they died fighting for our freedom and rights. Maybe the job of watching over the cemetery was too much for Mr. Metzler. He had too much compassion to let this damage build up on purpose.

Posted by: skinfreak | June 10, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Perle and Wolfowitz in charge at Arlington. They do not care about dead US military bodies. That is clear from the unnecessary war of choice in Iraq that is based on LIES.

Posted by: usnr02 | June 10, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

This is not Bush's fault, nor is it Obama's fault, the fault lies with Lyndon Johnson who removed the Army from management of Arlington Cemetary. It has been run by civilians since then. This same problem was found in 1997-1998 but nothing was done then for some stupid reason! That fat civilian idiot et al who ran the cemetary made a statement that "accidents happen and mistakes are made." What an idiot!!!!!! The Army needs to take over the management of the sacred ground our true American heroes rest. I thank God that my Dad changed his mind and decided to not be buried at Arlington...he had a place reserved for him.

Posted by: colleenfontenot | June 10, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

"You're doing a fine job Metzie."

THIS is what happens when you put hacks and "legacy" preferences in place of well qualified persons. Metzler may be a nice guy but it happened on his watch. And as for Mitt1968. You're an ass.

Posted by: mitlen | June 10, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

And people really want these idiots in charge of our health care? They'll kill us all!
Posted by: garys_opinion
=====================================
No, I don't think they would put legacy cemetary directors and gravediggers in charge of health care. What kind of thinking is that?

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 10, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

this is the case; how do we know that the persons entombed as the "unknowns" are actually unknown? The actual "unknown" could have been interred as a "known."
How Rumsfeldian....Posted by: CubsFan
======================================

Actually, the Tomb of the Unknowns is supposed to have one unknown soldier from each major war (since the Civil War, I guess). But a funny thing happened on the way to technological innovation. They used to have a Vietnam veteran in the tomb, but one of the labs that checks this kind of stuff actually identified him, and they had to remove the body and bury it in a regular grave.

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 10, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

you baggers and birthers who screamed and stomped your feet because the president went to another national cemetery on memorial day, well it appears you should want the nitwits in charge at arlington to be accountable for the job they are PAID to do.since you are so concerned about your war dead, please stay on this case.
keep your focus on the right issues.

Posted by: ninnafaye | June 10, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I have a hunch that this is another price paid for Affirmative Action and Civil Service policies.

Posted by: koch24 | June 10, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I have a hunch that this is another price paid for Affirmative Action and Civil Service policies.

Posted by: koch24 | June 10, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

"They found a “dysfunctional” and chaotic management system, poisoned by bitterness between the superintendent and a top subordinate and hobbled by antiquated record keeping."

That record system is a joke. It took my 'clan' members several years of inspecting it to discover all 33 named members of the extended family who are buried there, two of whom go back to the Civil War and were located only by a visual walk through (highly recommended)by family archivists. Even ten years ago, it would have cost less than a Humvee to put in a continually upgradable database management system that could by now have shown any location in Arlington to verified family members who walked through one of the gates. The recording mechanisms on CDs would be permanent even if there were errors and could even scan for the possible errors.

The same system could be applied to all veteran cemeteries spread around the country, and requires little more than 'standard' hardware in each facility. The Congress wouldn't even have to politicize the appropriation because it clearly comes under the Preamble's Common Defense and Tranquility covenants. For the price of another Humvee, they could even add buildings with Vietnam type 'walls' to those cemeteries where cremation is appropriate, noting that such ‘walls’ would quadruple the available space in some cemeteries . Instead of a loose urn, why not a stone block with the cremated remains that fit tightly into a wall next to the veteran's buddies?

Posted by: arjay1 | June 10, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Probably no one at The Post reads our comments, which is, occasionally, a shame.

The website's attempt at being clever right now re this topic with its headline of "Grave mix-up at Arlington" is tasteless and offensive to the memory of all of those who have given their lives for our country.


What is this, the "New York Post"?

Grow up, whoever you are who wrote this web headline....

Posted by: smckel | June 10, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Simply unbelievable, disappointing, and inexcusable! It's a simple accounting procedure to determine plot numbers and who is interred there. WHO works there? (Glad that my grandfather and uncle were buried there decades ago!)

Posted by: DecafDrinker | June 10, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dear God.
What's left to say about this travesty?

Posted by: Darlene_Jr | June 10, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse


We must halt our production of War Dead until this matter is cleared up.

Posted by: motorfriend | June 10, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Another example of how well the federal government run things. Can't wait until the fed enacted health plan comes in. It will be a disaster just wait and see. The government should stay out of the peoples' way. Leave us alone you morons in washington.

Bob P

Posted by: landrperite | June 10, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

My dad is buried there - 'laid to rest'

I can't rest now till I verify. sucks.

Posted by: Eyjafjallajokullone | June 10, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Sherrygard,

In does not matter whether Mr. Metzler is a
"man of honor and integrity." What matters
is whether he was a competent leader and
administrator. The Army has determined he was not.

Posted by: kerrd | June 10, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Sherrygard,

It does not matter whether Mr. Metzler is a
"man of honor and integrity." What matters
is whether he was a competent leader and
administrator. The Army has determined he was not.

Posted by: kerrd | June 10, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there nothing that these lowlife federal employees can't or won't screw up? And the scum (Metzler) announces his retirement (apparently just like his father? Another government employees unemployable kid! ) to live off the tax payers for years to come. ......

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | June 10, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere in my readings on this matter I found someone downplaying the issue because it dealt with the remains of a Civil War veteran. FYou,A-hole! Those people lived and died with the same fears and hopes of any soldier in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam etc....

Posted by: psst_limbaugh_keep-ranting_satan | June 10, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I wish I lived up there.
I would get a group of volunteers together and we would get started with the job of that sucker computerized.
This pathetic neglect is scandalous.
I find it so unbelieveable, as I've seen the services work in very up-to-date circumstances, although as my husband points out, his reserve unit usually got good equipment, but there was a lag time.
This isn't lag time problems here; this is just complete incompetence and lack of responsibility.
It is no comfort to families with loved ones buried there.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | June 10, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

The government’s solution is to hire and waste more money on yet more worthless bureaucrats to buck responsibility?

Arlington need less bureaucracy and more workers to get the job done. Fire all the bureaucrats..

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | June 10, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I am shocked that it has taken so long to discover these systemic problems. This is just another example of the civilians (i.e., GS, etc., employees) riding roughshod over the military, milking the system, underperforming, all at the taxpayers' expense. ANC is certainly not the only place in MDW where there's such dysfunction! Not only do I feel sorry for the families of those who are buried or memorialized in ANC, but I especially pity all the fine young men and women of the military honor guards who actually perform those 27 funerals per day -- they should not have to serve in such a dysfunctional environment as they execute their honorable and sacred duties.

Posted by: calinjaxnc | June 10, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

This is another fine example of how well our government will run the health care system. Hey libbtards, are you really sure that you want Odumbo and the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight in charge of your medical decisions?

Posted by: get_it_right | June 10, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"WHO CARES?
They're all dead.
Can we concentrate on important things like equalizing the income in America?"
Posted by: mitt1968 | June 10, 2010 6:16 PM
==
Do any of the cheapskate "conservatives" on this comment thread who are sneering and making fun of this sad situation not understand that this cemetery is run by the military, the Old Guard, not a bunch of minimum-wage flunkies?
Do they not understand that this cemetery is the locus of the pride of our nation, our nation's bravest soldiers?
If they don't care about Arlington, they don't give a whit about the United States of America.
They need to get the heck out this country they have so little respect for and quit asking good men to give their lives in service and courage for them, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan or on the borders of our nation.
They are not worthy of the sacrifice our men and women have made.
May they remain cursed and humiliated by those who gave their best for us.
A military wife.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | June 10, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

It is troubling that this foulup occurred, and the Secretary of the Army is right to attach importance to clearing it up. This situation deserves to be considered on its own merits -- dragging political arguments about other issues into it won't solve the problem at Arlington, and won't persuade anybody about the other issues either. What we need to remember about this situation is simple. Those buried in the mismarked graves gave their lives so that you and I could live in freedom. Every time we get to exercise our right to cast a vote in an election, every time we get to exercise our freedom of worship in accordance with our own consciences and beliefs, every time we get to exercise our freedom of speech by writing a letter to the Editor or posting something online that is critical of a politician without having to fear being arrested for doing so, every time we look at our children and are grateful that they are living in freedom, we owe something to the people lying in those mismarked graves in Arlington, and in cemeteries all over our country and U.S. military cemeteries throughout the world. We can never repay to them the debt that we owe them. The least that we can do is to take care that their final resting places be properly marked, as an expression of the respect we feel for the sacrifices that they made. Let's hope that Kathryn Condon, the new Executive Director of the Army's National Cemeteries program, will get this right.

Posted by: 02Pete | June 10, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The Arlington Superintendent does not deserve to be able to retire so easily and receive a pension in light of such failure. Shame on you Arlington National Cemetery and US Army!!!

Posted by: slydell | June 11, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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