King George County landfill to get plaque after soldiers remains dumped there

From 2004 through 2008, the partial remains of at least 274 American troops were cremated and shipped from Dover Air Force Base to the King George County Landfill in Northern Virginia.

Now, plans to commemorate the landfill as the final resting place for these soldiers is causing controversy.

A plaque commemorating the landfill as the place where partial remains of fallen service members were dumped will soon be installed.

King George County's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request by a county resident on Tuesday for the installation of the marker at the county's landfill, where the partial remains of some of America's fallen troops ended up after being processed at Dover Air Force Base.

Thousands of dollars in private donations will be used to purchase the memorial plaque.

"I don't understand why the military, up to this point, has not made an effort to do that here," King George County Supervisor Ruby Brabo said. "It isn't about what we think is appropriate; it is about what these families need for closure."

The report about the disposal of the partial remains, which was released last fall, caused shock and outrage nationwide. However, the plan to place this plaque is causing an entirely different kind of debate.

"What really bothers me is the fact that people come here to se the memorial plaque at our dump," King George Museum curator Elizabeth Lee said.

Richard Lorey, an Army veteran and King George County resident who spearheaded the movement for the memorial, got his cue from Gari-Lynn Smith, a military widow who first uncovered the situation.

Smith's husband, Sgt. First Class Scott Smith, was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb. She later found out that some of her husband's remains were among those that were disposed in King George County along with medical waste.

"To place the plaque anywhere else would appear to be another attempt at covering up the truth of the matter," Smith said in an email.

Lorey agrees that recognition of the events need to be made at the spot where it happened.

"We're not talking about putting it in a pile of trash," he said. "It's very respectful."

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