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Air Force Mortuary Affairs Employee Accused Of ‘Disrespecting’ John Glenn’s Remains
A top-level Pentagon official has accused a senior mortuary employee at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware of twice offering a group of inspectors a peek at the dead body of famed astronaut and Marine Corps aviator John Glenn as the American hero awaited burial earlier this year, according to a memo obtained by Military Times.
The memo was written by Deborah Skillman, the DoD’s director of casualty and mortuary affairs, who was among the inspectors at Dover both times the alleged misconduct occurred. Dated May 11, the document states that, on February 28 and March 2, mortuary branch chief William Zwicharowski offered Skillman and her colleagues a chance to “view the deceased.”
“Moreover,” Skillman wrote, “this offer to view the remains was also made in the presence of, and observed by, junior personnel on the Dover Mortuary Branch staff.”
Ironically, Zwicharowski, a former Marine himself, was awarded the Public Servant of the Year in 2013 after he and two other mortuary employees circumvented their chain of command to expose the Dover mortuary mishandling of the remains of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I want to guarantee the families of our fallen, in the past and in the future, that they’re treated with honor dignity and respect here at Dover,” Zwicharowski told a reporter in 2013. “As long as I’m here, they’ll be treated that way.”
Skillman wrote that Zwicharowski made comments suggesting he thought that the inspection was being conducted in reprisal for his involvement in the whistleblower scandal. However, Skillman insisted that wasn’t the case, writing, “it is important to note that this inspection was pursuant to a new DoD inspection policy, and three other sites had been inspected prior to the team’s inspection of Dover.”
In her memo, Skillman alleged that Zwicharowski had been “counseled by his chain of command the regarding the inappropriate nature” of his first offer, but then repeated it.
Officials told Military Times that the inspectors declined Zwicharowski’s offer and “at no time viewed the remains.
Glenn, a combat-decorated Marine and the first American to orbit Earth, died on December 8, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery several months later on April 6, his wedding anniversary.
The U.S. Air Force assumed responsibility for safeguarding Glenn’s body in the interim at the request of his family to “ensure an increased level of privacy and security for a renowned public servant, Marine Corps officer, and pioneer of space exploration,” according to Skillman’s memo.
The Air Force’s inspector general has launched an investigation into Zwicharowski’s alleged misconduct, branch spokesman Col. Patrick S. Ryder told Military Times.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, the Air Force will determine what further corrective actions, if any, may be necessary and appropriate,” Ryder told Military Times. “If any allegations of misconduct are substantiated, those involved will be held accountable.”
Ryder also noted that, despite Zwicharowski’s breach of protocol, the Dover mortuary passed its inspection with a score of 94 percent.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that it's "absolutely a given" that ISIS will come back if the U.S. doesn't keep up pressure on the group, just one week after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
"It's in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks, and we'll have to see if they're able to maintain the fight against ISIS," Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," set to air on Sunday. "It's going to have an impact. The question is how much?"