Arlington Mix-Up Creates Another Unknown Soldier

Unidentified remains found in plot listed as vacant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2009 4:53 AM CDT
A soldier with the 3rd Infantry Regiment guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va.    (AP Photo/Department of Defense, D. Myles Cullen)
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(Newser) – Arlington National Cemetery has buried an unknown soldier for the first time since 1984 because of bungled paperwork. Workers burying a service member in Grave 449 in 2003 found human remains in the ground when paperwork had marked the plot as vacant. The plot was left unmarked until recently when a headstone marked "Unknown" went up. The move followed an investigation by Salon, which was tipped off by cemetery workers who say such mix-ups happen disturbingly often.

Arlington officials say they are working to identify the unknown soldier—who is likely to have been buried relatively recently because Grave 449 is in an active section of the cemetery—although the remains have not been disinterred. Identifying who lies in Grave 449 could create a public-relations disaster for Arlington, Salon notes, particularly if the deceased service member's headstone went up over the wrong grave, creating a "ripple effect" of misidentified bodies.