Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Ulimate Desecration of Honor and in the end Honor is Restored by the Marines

It is early Sunday morning and I am still at a loss of how to put my arms around the events that took place at the disinterment of our son Heath.

I am going to break my thoughts in two sections, 1. The Ultimate Desecration of Honor and 2, Honor is Restored by the Marines.

The Ultimate Desecration of Honor

All I can say is please the following article by Mark Benjamin from

Honor is Restored by the Marines

What ever honor was stolen from our son by the administration of Arlington National Cemetery it was restored by the Marines. Thank you Gunny Sgt. Dixon. What most of you do not know was four years ago, Gunny Sgt. Dixon was in charge of his first Honor Guard burial of Pvt, Heath Warner. He was faithful again to his Marine brother inspite of Arlington's resistance. Your placing the flag on Heath's casket after it was disinterned and placed on the flat bed truck was only the beginning. Your continued presence through the day was a comfort to Melissa and myself.

I will never forget how you stood with Melissa and I after Heath's remains were placed in a new casket, how you comforted Melissa. You placed each new dog tag before me as if it was a precious jewel and buried him again with the dignity and honor. I will treasure that flag like a priceless diamond. Actually, it is more precious than is the blood, sweat and tears of freedom.

You watched the horrific events of the day and I know you will do the right thing with this information.

Semper Fi!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Preview of a Segment of our Public Statement to be read at the Women's Memorial Today

The text Bekow is a preview of the public statement I eill be making today after the disinterment.

The Desecration of Honor Stops Today

Almost four years ago, I stood here at Arlington National Cemetery after burying my son, USMC Pvt. Heath Warner. It was our son’s wishes to be buried at Arlington and we considered it the highest honor we could give him - to be buried with his fallen heroes on these most hallowed grounds. I commented at the time, “The honor matched the grief”.

Today, I stand before you again and I state, “The desecration of honor at Arlington National Cemetery matches our anger and grief”. I cannot begin to state the many feelings my wife and I have as we are here to disinter the body of our son for positive identification as a result of Arlington’s negligence.

Today, Melissa and I stand before you and declare that the Desecration of Honor Stops Today - here and now. We want to be part of the solution that no other family should have to go through what our family has gone through.
This can only occur with Congressional support and action in the following areas:

1. Arlington National Cemetery is first and foremost a working cemetery. We are calling for a temporary cessation of all tourist operations at Arlington National Cemetery until the expanded Congressional investigation is concluded and the outstanding issues are resolved. All resources need to be directed to restoring the honor and dignity that has defined Arlington National Cemetery. Once this has occurred tourist operations will begin under new policy and procedures that maintain the integrity and dignity of our fallen heroes buried at the Cemetery.

2. The creation of a panel of family members that will provide an ongoing continuous feedback loop to the Superintendent/Executive Director of what is being done well and what is not satisfactory to the families of the Arlington National Cemetery community.

3. The investigation is expanded to include verification of all paperwork related to those buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I hold before you a form that in the letter we received from Kathryn Condon in which she reassured us had been double checked for accuracy, which is in fact incomplete and full of errors which have resulted in our exhuming our son for positive identification (see exhibit A).

4. We are asking for Congressional action which would allow the families that have to suffer from the pain and agony of living this nightmare as a result of Arlington National Cemetery’s negligence legal remedy against the United States Army and the Cemetery which would also allow for Memorial Markers to remain at their loved ones grave and a return of their bodies to the families choice of reburial. A trust has been broken and violated in which we believe our son would be better taken care of by the family, but still allows us to honor our son’s request to be honored at Arlington National Cemetery.

5. I have presented to Congressman Boccieri from the 16th District in Ohio, a summary report from a meeting of Gold Star parents from his district with recommendations for legislation which would help Gold Star families to deal with the long term consequences of war in order that we can move forward in our healing. I am asking senior Congressional leaders to review this document and allow families to testify before Congress of what life is like for a Gold Star Family in 2010 and the creation of a Gold Star Family Assistance and Protection Act.

Lastly, the Warner Family would like to say to the families across America who have lost loved ones and to those families who have brave men and women is service to the country – on behalf of a grateful Nation we thank you for your sacrifice and service. We honor your family and loved ones.

May God Bless You, May God Bless America and May God Bless and Protect our Service Men and Women.

Scott and Melissa Warner

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's late and we just got into DC

It's late but I wanted to drop a quick line about tomorrow.

Does it make sense to anyone why we are the drivers of identifying Heath's body? Let's face it, having to have him disinterned is hard enough. I guess Arlington has not learned that there are other methods of identification such as a third party DNA forensic specialist? So tomorrow one of Heath's Marine friends and myself will be doing the verification. Orginally, we were to be taken to a funeral home where a funeral director would open the casket, now we are doing it onsite at Arlington...because they needed a permit to move Heath. I wonder if the Arlington admonistration would treat their loved ones like they are treating Heath?

Another thing I question - is the grave compromised by digging it out tonight allowing the vault exposed....supposedly, unntouched until we arrive at 8 AM tomorrow morning. Interesting?

A prayer that keeps me focused right now is.....

Christ be with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ where I lie. Christ where I sit. Christ where I arise. Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me. Christ in every eye that sees me. Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Christ. May your salvation Oh Lord be ever with us.

Blessings to all.


From the Diary of a Mad White Man Part II

Yesterday Congressman Boccieri's office coordinated a conference call between Kathryn Condon, her legal counsel, Arlington's Superintendent and myself.

It was an absolutely contentious phone conference. Kathryn did her best to massage her prior conversations with me and would try to make things that she wanted were my suggestions. For the record, I did make statements countering her statements and at one point I told her she was a big fat liar and that what she was saying was not true and to prove it I had recorded the conversation.

In the end, we were finally to finalize the arrangements for the disinterment.

My observation is whatever administrative and leadership skills Kathryn Condon brings to the table for helping Arlington, she lacks the understanding of dealing with a bereaving family. These are not skills she can learn on the fly. My recommendation is they terminate her as fast as they can.

I have a busy day as we are getting ready to head out to Arlington. I will update my blog as this unfolds. God Bless, Scott

Thursday, September 9, 2010

From the Diary of A Mad White Man

Last night, I received a call from the Marine Casualty Officers in DC offering to be there on Wednesday for Heath's disinterment. They said they had just heard of what was taking place and wanted to honor Heath and support us anyway they could. The Marines contacted Arlington this morning and were told by Col Trybular at Arlington that the Marines were to only serve at the request of the Army at Arlington. He proceeded to state they were not requested and were not welcome to be there. I am getting smoking hot. I contacted Congressman Boccieri's office to see if they could help. This is just wrong. Here's Arlington's phone number 703-607-8175. I am counting on all my friends to call and let them have it...From the Diary of A Mad White Man...Scott

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

9/11 Remembered

The following is a 9/11 tribute that I wrote in 2007. It captured what I felt in my heart. I share this each year as my way of reflecting on the tragic events of 9/11 that forever changed my families lives. I hope it touches you in a special way.

9/11 Remembered

I remember 9/11 so vividly. The drive into work was picture perfect. I remember thinking what an awesome early fall day, sunny, warm, and the sky was brillian blue. As I sat at my desk with the radio on, I heard the announcer break in that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centers.

I remember on 9/11, thinking maybe there was fog and a small Cessna had unfortunately lost course and crashed. Shortly thereafter, as a news reporter was interviewing an eye witness, there were screams as the second plane crashed into the second tower. Then, everything seemed to stop. Could it be terrorist? My employer sent us home and we were glued to the TV as the drama unfolded. Little did I know then that not only did the world change that day, but how dramatically and intimately it would change my family and life.

I remember on 9/11, that my son, Heath, would say he was going to fight for his country. I did not know then that he would lose his life fighting a war so his family could have a safer future.

I remember 9/11 as the day, he left to travel to this foreign field of battle, it would be the last day he would be alive on American soil. A day of last phone texts, last phone calls, and the day I began to endlessly worry about a son going to war.

I remember 9/11 as a bittersweet time of fond last memories and of the beginning of long-term pain and heartache.
I remember on 9/11, all the lives lost, the destruction, the end of a way of life America had known.

On 9/11, I pray that God will be with all the families that lost their special loved ones that day and with all the families of the brave men and women who have lost their lives fighting for our national security and freedom since then. May God give wisdom to our leaders that will lead us ultimately to a safer, free world.

God bless America, God bless you and may God bless our men and women serving our country.

Scott Warner

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Honor is from the Hero

Melissa and I were talking tonight. I said I do not know if I can go back to Arlington because it has lost the honor it once had to me. She was quick to remind me the honor is not defined by Arlington, the honor is derived from what our loved ones did, how they lived their lives and how they died. They were selfless heroes who thought of others first and gave their lives thinking of others. It is shameful what has happened at Arlington, but the honor does not rest on the administration or the employees. Whenever we remember the sacrifice of our son, the honor is still there. With that in mind, maybe I can find some peace in this miserable situation we now find ourselves in with Arlington administration.

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.