Friday, September 3, 2010

A Decision Has Been Made for the Disinterment of Pvt. Heath Warner at Arlington National Cemetery

A Decision Has Been Made

The last several weeks have been a challenging time for our family. In addition to the incomplete and inaccurate information on the Decedent Information form, Arlington records could not account for Heath's remains from the point he left Cleveland Hopkins Airport until he was held in storage at Arlington on December 11, 2006.

I was asked to rely on a verbal confirmation that his remains were held at a local funeral. When I asked for copies of the information from the funeral home, none could be provided. Based on this information, Melissa and asked the cemetery to move forward with Heath’s disinterment. With a positive identification and copies of the detailed funeral which would give account of the days preceding his burial on December 12, 2006, we will be able to find peace in this situation.

We have agonized with making this decision, but we have set the date of the disinterment with Arlington for Wednesday, 9/15/2010 at 8 AM.

What Have I Learned From This Experience

When I wrote my op-ed, Arlington National Cemetery - A Spectrum of Desecration, I had no clue that I would find myself in the situation of questioning were our son was buried. However, with the expanded investigation potentially impacting 4500 to 6600 graves, we decided for peace of mind, to ask Arlington to confirm his grave.

Moving forward I became vigilant in my pursuit for truth. Searching for truth requires a perseverance that I did not realize I had within me. I learned to see through rhetoric and pursue factual information. Holding the cemetery accountable for their poor records and exposing our story in a public forum has not been easy. We have asked Eric Mansfield from WKYC and Stan Meyers from the Canton Repository to cover Heath’s disinterment, as we believe it is important for American’s to see the reality of the Arlington’s negligence.

I am not looking forward to disinterring Heath's grave, but in the end this short term pain, will provide long term peace. To the families who have loved ones buried at Arlington, ask for hard copies of your loved ones records. Unless you ask, they will not send them to you and you will only receive a scripted response from the call center. Specifically, ask for the Decedent's Information sheet. I am confident that our records are not the only ones that are incomplete and inaccurate. We have been asked to settle for the errors as clerical mistakes and computer glitches. That is not acceptable.

We have decided to keep Heath buried at Arlington as this is what he would want. I am praying that it is Heath's body buried at his grave. By moving forward with his disinterment, I believe it is a big step forward for Arlington in restoring the honor and dignity that has been lost. If our perseverance helps others, then the pain we have suffered will be worth it.


  1. Scott,

    Sorry to hear of your situation. In lieu of missing data - this seems like the most sensible things for them to do. Sorry Scott for the heartache and sadness this brings to you and the disrespect their negligence brings to Heath, and potentially many veterans.

    I admire your persistence. You are on the right side of this fight. Hopefully this will bring certainty to the location of Heath's body, peace/assurance to you and your family, and will bring attention to their disgraceful behavior.

    A couple of questions - Is this one of the first disinterment done at Arlington as a result of this recent scandal? The Arlington website states that any approved disinterment must be done without expense to the government. Are you guys footing the bill here or will they be picking u the bill since it is their screw-up?

    My love and warm regards to you and your family.


  2. Mu understanding they are paying for this, but who knows. We will see. Nothing would surprise me at this point. Will talk soon. Scott

  3. Heart-breaking. I am praying for your family.

  4. may god bless you and yours and keep you safe.It is a real shame when our men and women who are fighting for this great country are only recognized and paid attention to when they are enlisted in the armed forces,then all but forgotten when and after they sacrifice them selves for the is my sincerest hope that your son who proudly and so unselfishly gave his life so that so many who call this great country home, will have a special place at the right side of our loving God in heaven Thank you for your service and to all of the men and women who are now in the service as well as all the Vets out there thank you and GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!

  5. Dear Scott,

    I can't believe that you and your family are going through this nightmare. BUT I do believe you are entitled to know if someone erred in the interment of Heath's remains at ANC.

    Our son is buried in Arlington, too. But I also know that he is in his plot of land in Sec 60. Our son had an open casket at the funeral home and we followed the hearse from the home to the Chapel at ANC and then to the gravesite....we have a continuity of John's remains whereas you do not.

    I will pray that you will find peace in finding Heath in that little plot of land that our sons and daughters are allowed at ANC.

    God Bless you and yours, Scott!

  6. May God hold you and your family in the palm of his hand that day! I am glad you have WKYC and the Repository covering this. Hopefully NBC news picks it up from WKYC along with other news medias.


  7. To Mr. and Mrs. Warner, my heartfelt condolences for your loss, and for the trial Arlington's gross mismanagement and disrespect for our fallen servicemen and women is now putting your family through. I pray that you find Heath where you expect to find him. To answer the question if this is one of the first disinterments, no it is NOT. My brother was disinterred a few weeks ago, and no his body was not where it was supposed to be. They had to dig up 4 more graves to find him. My sister-in-law immediately had him recommitted the next morning. I have kept silent out of respect for her wishes for privacy, and I will not release any private information, but I would like for Mr. Warner to contact me so we can discuss what the future holds.

  8. Dear Sir, my heart goes out to you and to your family. This just keeps getting worse and worse. They are lying if they say you are the first to request this disinterment. In August of 2010 my son's grave was opened. He WAS NOT buried in it. Four other graves were opened on either side of him and his body was found. This was done in the dark of night and it is my understanding that none of these families were told about this. My son was found, I just pray that yours is buried where he is supposed to be. My daughter, Barbara asks that you contact us. I felt as if my son died twice.