Pentagon Documents: Astronaut John Glenn’s Body Disrespected At Military Mortuary


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A senior mortuary employee violated protocol by offering military officials sneak peeks of deceased astronaut John Glenn’s body while it awaited burial, according to an internal memo obtained by Military Times.

Dover Air Force Base senior mortuary employee William Zwicharowski twice asked military inspectors if they wanted to view the astronaut’s body earlier this year. One anonymous military official told Military Times that Zwicharowski may have made that same offer to others.

“Even after Mr. Zwicharowski was counseled by his chain of command regarding the inappropriate nature of his earlier offer, he repeated it,” reads a memo obtained by Military Times.

“This breach of protocol is serious and troubling as these offers were made to members of an official Department of Defense inspection team on-site to inspect the facility and determine whether it was in compliance with applicable procedures and policy and being well-run by its leadership,” the memo says.

The Defense Department’s director of casualty and mortuary affairs wrote in the memo that Zwicharowski’s alleged actions were “clearly inappropriate and personally shocking.”

The Military Times made multiple attempts to contact Zwicharowski, but he never returned requests for comment.

Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in 1962. He died last December at the age of 95 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors April on what would’ve been his 74th wedding anniversary at the request of his family.

Glenn is widely celebrated for being the first American to orbit the Earth. He was the fifth person to enter space in 1962, and the oldest person to travel through space at the age of 77 in 1998. He served in the Marines during World War II and the Korean War, where he flew 63 combat missions, returning to base with his aircraft shot 250 times.

After encouragement from Robert F. Kennedy, Glenn ran for the U.S. Senate in Ohio as a Democrat and ultimately served from 1978 to 1999. Glenn was a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committee where he pioneered arms control measures.

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