Army Trying to Account For 200 Missing Remains

An Army investigation has found the remains of more than 200 of the United States' heroes may have been misidentified or even misplaced.

Behind the grief, the honor and the beauty of Arlington National Cemetery lay a cesspit of mismanagement, including the ultimate dishonor of misplaced remains, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

"There's simply no excuse and on behalf of the United States Army, on behalf of myself, I deeply apologize to the families of the honored fallen," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

McHugh fired the superintendent and the deputy superintendent after the Army's inspector general found multiple cases of remains mishandled.

Remains Misplaced at Arlington National Cemetery

"Either an unmarked grave or a grave that was improperly marked and brought to us by a family member or a burial urn that was improperly uncovered," said Army Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb.

An urn containing the ashes of Marion Grabe, who served 26 years in the Air Force, was accidentally buried over another body. Her remains were finally moved to another plot without telling her family.

"Someone from the family would have been representative at that time of reinternment," said Grabe's sister Dorothy Nolte. "However, we weren't notified so that was a very sad thing for us."

The inspector general's report vindicates whistleblower Gina Grey, a former public affairs officer at the cemetery, who told a high ranking general about the problems two years ago.

"He assured me that he would look into it," said Grey in 2009. "I spent and hour and 45 minutes with him and two days later I was fired."

Grey now has another government job and is suing the Army.

Arlington National Cemetery must now try to account for those 200 misplaced remains, and there could be more.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.