Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Flight 93's Connection to Dover Mortuary, and to Jim Jones' Mass Suicide

September 9 2002, The [Australian] Age, On Hallowed Ground, by Gerard Wright,

October 28, 2001, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Flight 93: Forty lives, one destiny, This story was written by Staff Writer Dennis B. Roddy,

September 19, 2001, The Travel Technologist, Will They Allow Cell Phones on Planes? by Christopher Elliott,

September 12, 2001, Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette, Medical teams on standby to go to New York, D.C., Somerset County, by Anita Srikameswaran,

September 12, 2001, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Counselors aid workers at scene of jet crash, by Deborah Mendenhall,

September 12, 2001, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds', This story is based on the reporting of staff writers Bob Batz,

September 12, 2001, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Day of Terror: Outside tiny Shanksville, a fourth deadly stroke, by Jonathan D. Silver,

September 17, 2001, Chicago Tribune, Victims' family members visit final resting place of Flight 93, by Douglas Holt,

September 16, 2001, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, Call records detail how passengers foiled 2nd Washington attack,, by Holt, Douglas,

November 24, 2001, Chicago Sun-Times, All hail war's first 'soldiers', by Andrew Herrmann,

September 5, 2002, The Orlando Sentinel,  Operator can't forget haunting cries from Flight 93, by Wes Smith,

December 21, 2001,  Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Federal Aid Plan For Victims Unveiled,

July 18, 2008, The Washington Post,Terrorism Funds May Let Brass Fly in Style; Luxury Pods for Air Force Debated, by  R Jeffrey Smith

September 13, 2011, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; About 500 attend private service at site of Flight 93 crash, by Mary Pickels; and Jennifer Reeger,

September 12, 2011, The Irish Times, Aircraft victims finally being laid to rest 10 years on,  

April 24, 2006, New York Times, Paul Greengrass's Filming of Flight 93's Story, Trying to Define Heroics, by Jere Longman,

September 12, 2011, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Remains of Flight 93 passengers, crew buried in private ceremony, by Mary Pickels,

February 28, 2012, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Somerset coroner denies Flight 93 remains in landfill, by Richard Gazarik,

August 28, 2003, Airline Industry Information, Coroner completes investigation into United Airlines flight 93 crash site,

November 2002, BeliefNet, 'It's Todd's character that shines through,' A friend of Todd Beamer carries on the quiet legacy of one who died cleaving to his faith, Interview by Paul O'Donnell,


September 1, 2011, AP Online, Families to hold Pa. service for Flight 93 remains,

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Relatives of passengers and crew members who perished on United Airlines Flight 93 will hold a private funeral and reinterment service for unidentified remains at the crash site the day after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Sept. 12 ceremony will take place at what's called the Sacred Ground site in the fields near Shanksville, the rural area southeast of Pittsburgh where the 40 passengers and crew members lost their lives after fighting terrorists for control of the plane.

The Sacred Ground is located within the Flight 93 National Memorial but is closed to the public. On Sept. 12, the entire memorial will be closed to the public until 2 p.m. to allow for the private service.

The service will be led by Somerset County coroner Wallace Miller. The remains have been kept in three caskets inside a crypt in the coroner's care for the past 10 years.

At the service, the caskets will be placed in the earth at the crash site. Attendees will include family members, National Park Service officials and invited guests. To honor the privacy of the families, the ceremony will be closed to the public and the media.

Carole O'Hare, whose mother, Hilda Marcin, was a passenger on Flight 93, said the crash victims were heroes
"They were also our loved ones," O'Hare said Thursday. "This ceremony provides an opportunity for us to reflect quietly on their extraordinary lives."

November 30, 2001
by Christopher C. Kelly
Army News Service
What some experts have called "the most comprehensive forensic investigation in U.S. history" ended Nov. 16 with the identification of 184 of the 189 who died in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
A multidisciplinary team of more than 50 forensic specialists, scientists, and support personnel from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology played a major role in Operation Noble Eagle investigations, officials said.
Many of the casualties were badly burned and difficult to identify, an official said. Of the 189 killed, 125 worked at the Pentagon and 64 were passengers on American Airlines Flight 77. Only one of those who died made it to the hospital. The rest were killed on site, and for some, only pieces of tissue could be found.
AFIP's team of forensic pathologists, odontologists, a forensic anthropologist, DNA experts, investigators, and support personnel worked for over two weeks in the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del., and for weeks at the DNA lab in Rockville, Md., to identify the victims of the attack.
"Our staff represented every branch of the service," said AFIP Director Navy Capt. Glenn N. Wagner. "We also received tremendous support from the doctors, nurses, and technicians stationed at Dover who participated in the investigation."
The investigation mobilized AFIP assets in many ways. In the hours following the crash Sept. 11, the acting armed forces medical examiner, Air Force Col. AbuBakr Marzouk, worked with FBI and local Virginia law enforcement officials to create a plan for recovering and identifying the victims.
At the same time, personnel from the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner positioned and staged equipment to begin operations at Dover. Air Force Maj. Bruce Ensign served as AFIP's team leader at the site.
"We immediately called in regional medical examiners from as far away as San Diego to participate," Ensign said. A total of 12 forensic pathologists, assisted by two AFIP staff pathologists, headed the investigation team.
Also arriving at Dover during those early critical hours were two other key AFIP groups: forensic scientists from OAFME's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and oral pathologists from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.
AFDIL scientists ensured that data systems and records were available to make DNA identifications, while the oral pathology group created a triage area to conduct positive dental identifications. Contacts were also made with family services personnel in each branch of the military to obtain ante-mortem information and reference material. Mortuary operations were fully underway by the evening of Sept. 13.
AFIP used a well-defined and tested system for conducting the identifications of the Pentagon victims. When remains arrived at the morgue, a scanning device searched for the presence of unexploded ordnance or metallic foreign bodies. A computerized tracking system then assigned numbers to each victim for efficient tracking.
FBI experts collected trace evidence to search for chemicals from explosive devices and conducted fingerprint identifications. Forensic dentistry experts from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology then performed dental charting and comparison with ante-mortem dental records. Full-body radiographs followed to document skeletal fractures and assist in the identification process, followed by autopsy inspection.
At autopsy, forensic pathologists determined the cause and manner of death, aided by forensic anthropologist Dr. William C. Rodriguez in determining the race, sex, and stature of victims when necessary. A board-certified epidemiologist managed the tracking system for data collected during the autopsy process, and tissue samples were collected for DNA identification and further toxicology studies. Forensic photographers, essential to any forensic investigation, documented injuries and personal effects. Finally, mortuary specialists then embalmed, dressed, and casketed remains prior to release to next-of-kin.
For eight days a full complement of AFIP forensic specialists worked 12-hour shifts to complete the operation.
"This is the largest mass fatality we've dealt with in recent years," Ensign said. "We have modalities today that we didn't have before. Our investigation was much more technology-intensive."
Ensign noted that the entire team worked well together. "Because of the combined effort of all three services and the FBI, we were very pleased with the speed of the identification process. Essential records and references were submitted to us in a timely way."
Logistical help from AFIP also played an important role. "We had tremendous logistical issues obtaining equipment, especially with additional demands in New York City and Somerset County, Pennsylvania," he said. "Fortunately our logistical support was terrific in helping us get material in."
The Dover mortuary sent specimens back to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md. There teams of forensic scientists, under the direction of Demris Lee, technical leader of the Nuclear DNA Section, took over the difficult chore of generating a DNA profile of the victims. Their work included not only the Pentagon crash victims, but the victims of the Somerset County, Pa., crash as well.
Every one of the organization's 102 DNA analysts, sample processors, logistics staff, and administrative personnel were involved -- from collecting, tracking, analyzing DNA samples, and gathering and logging DNA reference material to preparing DNA reports. For 18 days following the terrorist attacks, AFDIL employees worked on 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to meet the mission requirements.
The laboratory prepared to expand its operation to include the Somerset County crash almost immediately. Boyer, who is a nationally recognized expert in coordinating tissue collection services following aircraft disasters, traveled to Somerset County directly after the incident. There, he discussed AFDIL's potential role in identifying the United Airlines Flight 93 victims with federal and local officials, including the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The DNA identifications for the Flight 93 victims were sent from AFIP to the Somerset County Coroner's Office for release.
DoD released the positive identification of Pentagon victims. All but four of those who worked in the Pentagon were identified. AFIP identified all but one of the passengers on Flight 77.
(Editor's note: Christopher C. Kelly is the AFIP director of Public Affairs.)


Searchers Work And Scientists Wait for Bodies
Morgue Gears Up to Identify Remains

by Avram Goldstein

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, September 13, 2001; Page B05

Somber recovery crews began collecting human remains from the smoldering rubble of the Pentagon yesterday as military medical examiners prepared to identify hundreds of victims.

Because many of the bodies disintegrated or were severely burned Tuesday when a hijacked jetliner slammed into the west side of the building, experts will have to use a variety of scientific methods to identify victims, physicians said.

A crew of about 75 military pathologists, dental experts and DNA scientists will be assigned to the job, and reinforcements will be called in from the military and civilian medical communities if necessary, said Christopher C. Kelly, a spokesman for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

The operation will be headed by the institute's director, Navy Capt. Glenn N. Wagner.

The examinations will be done in the port mortuary at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, which can handle hundreds of examinations a day. That mortuary has examined mass casualties from the Beirut Marine Corps barracks bombing, the Guyana mass suicide and the Nairobi embassy bombing.

"There is no other place in this country that's as well set up to do mass examinations of human remains," said Victor Weedn, a forensic pathologist and a former chief deputy medical examiner for the institute.

"We are prepared to be able to handle in the hundreds over a number of hours," Kelly said. "It's the ideal place to do this kind of work. We're prepared to look at highly fragmented remains and to utilize the DNA expertise we have there."

Because of its role in investigating acts of terrorism, the FBI will lead the investigation on the Pentagon grounds, Kelly said. In addition to its criminal focus, the FBI's fingerprint expertise will be helpful in identifying victims, he said.

A Salvation Army consultant who worked inside the Pentagon all day yesterday said authorities set up an interim morgue in an interior courtyard. Bernie Dake said he saw about a dozen body bags brought from the debris by rescue workers and laid in a grid in the courtyard by midday. By last night, several sets of remains -- borne on stretchers -- were being delivered to refrigerated trucks parked on the perimeter of the building.

"They don't look like corpses," Dake said of the remains delivered to the courtyard. "They look like small bags with remains inside."

Dake said teams of rescue workers entered the damaged area for about an hour at a time and took 15-minute breaks. "The mood there is somber," Dake said. "Many of them are in tears."

Giant Food lent two refrigerated trailers to the Defense Department for storage of remains until they can be taken to Dover. The remains must be kept between 38 and 43 degrees to preserve them. No bodies are expected to arrive in Dover until today at the earliest.

The decision to use the military pathologists came after a behind-the-scenes tug of war with Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro. Arguing that the state forensic pathologists had jurisdiction over the Pentagon's land, she reassigned staff members from three other regional offices to the Northern Virginia office on Braddock Road to prepare for the onslaught of postmortem exams.

"We're in a state of readiness right now," said Rochelle Altholz, state administrator of the agency.

But later in the day, she said the Defense Department informed Fierro that federal law calls for the military to take jurisdiction.

Kelly said he was not certain who made the decision.

Charles J. Stahl, the institute's retired chief medical examiner, predicted the investigation will be extremely complicated. Investigators from the institute will have to coordinate activities with the Defense Department, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, several disaster mortuary operational response teams and the civilian medical examiners in Virginia, the District and Maryland.

A key advantage in identifying military personnel is that all are required to give blood samples for the institute's DNA repository, Stahl said.

To identify civilians, the medical examiners will rely more on dental records and fingerprints, Stahl said. Reliable DNA samples from civilians -- such as hair, blood or saliva -- also could be compared with remains collected at the Pentagon, but that isn't as easy to arrange, he said.

Weedn said samples should be aggressively collected from the civilians.

"It really makes sense to start going to the families right off the bat and show them they can help in the identification process by providing some DNA samples," he said.

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