Imagine the horror of realizing that you have been going to the grave where you believe your son was buried some three years earlier only to find out, it might not be his body in that grave!
After all the uproar in Arlington National Cemetery over poor record keeping, mismanagement, etc. the newspapers seemed to find little more of interest to report about. That is, until today when the parents of a Marine found out the truth about who was buried under the headstone of their son, Pfc Heath Warner, there at Arlington National Cemetery.
After demanding that they be allowed to exhume the body, so that positive identification could be made, Mr. and Mrs. Warner are satisfied that it is indeed their son. Last month, the Army acknowledged that there had been mistakes made, after Arlington National Cemetery exhumed two bodies that were buried in the wrong graves.
Another Marine who served with Pfc Warner, was asked by Scott Warner, Heaths' father, to examine the body and make a positive identification for the family. Why the doubt?
When Heath was buried, there were several inaccuracies listed in the paperwork at Arlington. Two major errors incorrectly listing the location of the funeral and funeral home and his religion stood out sharply. The service actually took place in Canton, OH not Illinois as listed in the paperwork. Another error showed Pfc Warner as being a Protestant rather than a nondenominational Christian as was listed in his Marine paperwork.
Having served with Heath, this Marine, armed with a photograph, from the funeral home in Canton of his remains, knowledge of a tatto on Heaths' arm and knowing he would be looking for his dog tags, brought closure to Pfc Heath Warners' family today! Positive identification was made today at Arlington National Cemetery at approximately 9:15 a.m.
The Warner family is looking into the possibility of moving Heath's body to another cemetery but would leave his headstone there in place at Arlington National Cemetery.
Warner made a written statement...
"would like to say to the families across America who have lost loved ones and to those families who have brave men and women in service to the country -- on behalf of a grateful Nation, we thank you for your service and sacrifice and service. We honor your family and loved ones."
These errors, coupled with the Inspector General's report that was published in June 2010, caused the Warner family to have a loss of faith in Arlington National Cemetery.
Scott Warner was quoted as saying "They broke the trust."