Pentagon probing reports John Glenn's remains were disrespected

The Pentagon is investigation whether astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn’s (D-Ohio) remains were disrespected before his burial earlier this year, according to a new report.

A May 11 Defense Department memo alleges a senior mortuary employee at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware mistreated Glenn’s body before his burial by offering to allow others to view it, The Military Times reported Thursday.

Deborah Skillman, the department’s director of casualty and mortuary affairs, reportedly wrote of two separate incidents on Feb. 28 and March 2 before Glenn's April 6 burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Skillman’s memo alleges that William Zwicharowski, the mortuary branch’s chief, “offered to allow the inspectors to view the deceased."


“Moreover, this offer to view the remains was also made in the presence of, and observed by, junior personnel on the Dover Mortuary Branch staff,” wrote Skillman, who was present for both instances.

Col. Patrick S. Ryder, an Air Force spokesman, told the Times that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson had directed the service’s inspector general to investigate the matter.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, the Air Force will determine what further corrective actions, if any, may be necessary and appropriate,” he said. “If any allegations of misconduct are substantiated, those involved will be held accountable.”

Skillman noted in her memo that Zwicharowski stated he believed the inspection was a reprisal for his role in a whistleblower scandal six years ago.

Zwicharowski helped reveal that the Dover mortuary had mishandled the remains of some fallen military service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Glenn, 95, was a combat-decorated Marine, the first American to orbit Earth and a senator for more than 20 years. He died on December 8.