US: Arlington opens graves, finds 3 misplaced bodies

Arlington National Cemetery is one of the best-known US burial grounds.

Washington: Arlington National Cemetery, one of the best-known US burial grounds, has recently discovered three people buried in the wrong graves, the Army has said, in the wake of an investigation into bookkeeping problems and burial mix-ups at one of the nation`s most hallowed sites.

After a report on the investigation issued in June found that the problems could potentially affect thousands of graves, defence officials received about 1,100 calls from worried families.

One of those calls, from the widow of an Army staff sergeant, led to the exhumation of three graves late last month. The three remains in those graves, all former members of the armed forces, were found to be in the wrong place, said Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman.

"The families are satisfied that the problem was fixed," he said yesterday.

A fourth grave was opened yesterday in a different section of Arlington. At the request of his father, the grave and casket of Marine Pfc Heath Warner were opened.

The site was found to hold the remains of Warner, who was killed in Iraq in 2006, Tallman said.

"We`re gratified that the outcome was positive and they were able to gain some closure," Tallman said of Warner`s family members.

Tallman said he was not aware of any other requests for exhumation.

The investigation into cemetery mismanagement marred the Arlington`s reputation. Army Secretary John McHugh announced the cemetery`s two civilian leaders would be forced to step aside, and appointed a new chief to conduct a more thorough investigation to sort out the mix-ups.

Almost four million people each year visit Arlington, where more than 300,000 remains are buried, including troops from conflicts dating back to the Civil War, as well as US presidents and their spouses and other US officials.