An e-mail from an offended Army official, attending the cremation of a military comrade killed overseas, has led to a Pentagon ban of the cremation of soldiers alongside pets.
Since there is no crematory at Dover Air Force Base, the Air Force contracted operations out to Torbert Funeral Chapels and Crematories, which operates two nearby facilities, in 2001.
Human and animal remains were ever mixed in the process, says the Pentagon, but nonetheless, remains of American servicemembers will no longer be cremated in facilities other than funeral homes, the Washington Post reports.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found the environment of the Delaware facility in question “insensitive and entirely inappropriate for the dignified treatment of our fallen,” according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
“The families of the fallen have the secretary’s deepest apology,” Morrell added.
Members of the military and animals had been cremated in the same room, according to Capitol Crematory/Friends Forever Pet Cremation Service manager David A. Bose, but the crematory used for the pets is too small for most human bodies to fit inside.
A typical “processing” of a servicemember’s body, says Bose, was a simple drop-off and signing of paperwork, with a next-day pickup of the cremains.
The accompanying video report was broadcast on Fox’s Fox & Friends on May 10, 2008.