Air Force investigates incident involving John Glenn's remains

During a weeklong inspection of the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in DE last winter, Defense Department inspectors were offered a chance to view Glenn's remains before they were interred at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, Ryder said.

On both occasions, inspectors declined and were reportedly "horrified" by the offer to peek at Glenn's remains. Glenn died in December at the age of 95.

Glenn, an astronaut and senator, achieved fame as the first person to orbit the planet and again shocked the world 36 years later when he became the oldest person in space. His family gave his remains to Air Force personnel to look after before laying him to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6.

The Air Force spokesperson said that when it concludes the investigation into the incident, "the Air Force will determine what further corrective actions, if any, may be necessary and appropriate".

Dale Butland, a longtime Senate aide to Glenn, told The Columbus Dispatch that the Glenn family was not available for comment.

A U.S. Air Force watchdog is investigating a report that a senior mortuary employee offered to show the remains of famed astronaut and Sen.

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Astronaut Lt. Col. John H. Glenn is pictured at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 13, 1962. But a key question is whether others were also told they could view Glenn's remains, one military official said. But on February 28 and March 2, William Zwicharowski, the mortuary's branch chief, "offered to allow the inspectors to view the deceased", she wrote.

Zwicharowski said he does not recall any negative reaction from inspection team members.

FILE - In this November 11, 2011 file photo, Dover Air Force Base mortuary employee Bill Zwicharowski reacts during an interview with The Associated Press about his and two other employees' whistleblower complaints that led to a Pentagon investigation of the nation's largest military mortuary in Wyoming, Del.

Speaking to The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal about the scandal in 2013, he said problems at the mortuary were in the past. "If allegations of misconduct are substantiated, those involved will be held accountable". The family had asked the Air Force to care for his remains during the interim.

It's unclear what that new policy entails, though Ryder said the mortuary passed its inspection with a score of 94 percent.

The inspector general's investigation was ordered after an inspection of the mortuary in March. The employee in question is identified as Bill Zwicharowski.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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