King George County landfill becomes resting place for fallen soldiers

Gari-Lynn Smith gives a final farewell. (Photo: WJLA)

Amidst the tall grasses and debris in the King George County landfill, Gari-Lynn Smith gives a final farewell to her husband.

Sergeant First Class Scott Smith, an explosive ordnance technician, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2006.

But Gari-Lynn found out some of his remains were discovered later, after his funeral.

In a letter from a Dover Air Force base official, she learned that those remains were disposed with medical waste in a landfill.

“Nobody should die on foreign soil and then be brought back to be treated this way, nobody,” Gari-Lynn says.

Landfill manager Thomas Cue says they didn't know what was being sent - just that it was industrial ash. He has placed two stones in the location he believes the remains could be, based on when they arrived.

“It's the right thing to do,” Cue says. “The guy gave his life for us.”

Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered to honor Smith and the other unknown fallen service members by unveiling a bronze memorial plaque.

“The manner in which Scott's remains were handled will never be okay with me, knowing that someone cares enough to remember him and the others who are here, will give me some comfort as I go forward,” Gari-Lynn says.

With support from longtime military friends, local veterans and active-duty military members, the message seemed clear: Never forget.

“We took action to honor the service members who unfortunately wound up here and that is the right thing,” says Ruby Brado, King George County supervisor.

Despite opposition to placing a plaque at the landfill, Gari-Lynn says there is no other place it could be.

“I definitely feel like Scott is proud and he's here and I feel like he can rest peacefully now,” She says.