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Memo claims Air Force mortuary official offered to let people look at John Glenn's remains

On two separate occasions, a senior mortuary employee at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware allegedly asked inspectors if they wanted to look at John Glenn's remains prior to his burial, a Defense Department official wrote in an internal memo obtained by Military Times.

Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, a decorated Marine, and a former U.S. senator, died on Dec. 8 at age 95, and his family asked the Air Force to care for his remains between his death and burial April 6 at Arlington National Cemetery, to ensure privacy and security, Military Times reports. In her memo, dated May 11, Deborah Skillman, the Defense Department's director of casualty and mortuary affairs, wrote that on Feb. 28 and March 2, mortuary branch chief William Zwicharowski "offered to allow the inspectors to view the deceased," which was "clearly inappropriate and personally shocking." She was so concerned she asked his deputy commander to address the matter with Zwicharowski, Skillman wrote in the memo. Officials told Military Times that Skillman and additional inspectors refused to view the remains.

In her memo, Skillman also wrote that Zwicharowski said he believed the inspection was due to him being a whistleblower six years ago; along with two other employees, he revealed that the mortuary had lost or improperly disposed of the body parts of some soldiers who died while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was nearly fired for going outside his chain of command to report this, but he ultimately received a Public Servant of the Year award. Military Times was unable to reach Zwicharowski for comment.