Updated 9h 59m ago
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The remains of more than 200
troops were misidentified or improperly buried at
Arlington National Cemetery, according to an Army
investigation of operations at the premier final
resting place for 330,000 servicemembers.
Arlington is the "most hallowed burial ground of
our nation's fallen," Army Secretary John McHugh
said. More than 4 million people come each year to
the 146-year-old cemetery, where an average of 27
funerals are conducted each day.
It is home to the graves of President John F.
Kennedy and World War II hero Audie Murphy.
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Cemetery superintendent John Metzler was stripped
of his authority but will remain on staff until his
retirement July 2, McHugh said. Thurman
Higgenbotham, Metzler's deputy, was placed on
The investigation found problems with identification
and record keeping at 211 graves, McHugh said. In
one case, the remains of an airman were buried in
an unmarked, occupied grave.
Such revelations are outrageous, said Thomas
Tradewell, national commander of the Veterans of
Foreign Wars. "The VFW is deeply saddened by the
thought of all the family members who are just now
learning that their loved one may, potentially, not be
resting in peace," he said.
Reports by the website Salon.com in July 2009 first
detailed problems at the cemetery, and then-Army
secretary Pete Geren launched the inspector
general's investigation in August.
McHugh announced a series of changes Thursday,
including naming former senators and Army
veterans Max Cleland, D-Ga., and Bob Dole, R-Kan.,
to lead a new Army National Cemetery Advisory C
More investigations are on the way, as Rep. Ike
Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee, said his panel will investigate
the cemetery. "This conduct is disgraceful and
cannot be tolerated," Skelton said.