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Family of slain Marine await apology after Air Force mortuary scandal

From left, Tracy Maiville, sister of Daniel Angus, and his parents, Kathy and William Angus, speak Thursday at the offices of their attorney, Mark O’Brien. “Everyone involved needs real consequences for what they did,” Kathy Angus said.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

From left, Tracy Maiville, sister of Daniel Angus, and his parents, Kathy and William Angus, speak Thursday at the offices of their attorney, Mark O’Brien. “Everyone involved needs real consequences for what they did,” Kathy Angus said.

TAMPA

Silently, the Angus family waited.

The mother, father and sister of Sgt. Daniel Angus bided seven months to see what punishment would come for the morticians and supervisors responsible for sawing off the arm of the Marine killed in Afghanistan.

Last week, a reporter — not the Pentagon — called the family with the news.

And they grieved for Daniel Angus yet a third time.

This time, they wanted to be heard.

"More than anything, we deserve an apology that doesn't start with 'I'm sorry, but …' " said his mother, Kathy Angus, in a news conference Thursday. "Everyone involved needs real consequences for what they did."

The Air Force said in a statement last week that Dover Air Force Base Port Mortuary supervisors Col. Robert Edmondson and Trevor Dean were punished for retaliating against employees who complained about the way servicemen and servicewomen's bodies were being handled.

Edmondson received a second letter of reprimand and a $7,000 fine. Dean, the top civilian deputy, got a 20-day suspension without pay.

In March, Quinton "Randy" Keel, the supervisor directly responsible for removing Angus' arm, resigned. During a 2011 investigation, Dean and Keel were demoted and given pay cuts.

"If it weren't for the whistle-blowers, it's very possible that this never would have stopped," said William Angus, the Marine's father.

The Defense Department said the punishment was appropriate.

"Heroes deserve the highest honor and respect, and we are committed to taking to steps to ensure lapses do not occur in the future," department spokesman George Little told the Pentagon Channel.

•••

For this family, the grieving began with a knock on the door in January 2010.

Officials told the Anguses that their son and two others had been killed in a blast in Helmand province.

It was Daniel Angus' third tour of duty since enlisting in the Marines in 2003.

"The Marines shaped my son into a good man," said William Angus, 58, an air conditioning and heating technician. "He loved the Marines and would have made a career of it."

After getting the news of his death, the family lowered the American flag in front of their Thonotosassa home to half staff and left for Dover, Del.

Kathy Angus, 58, said she never intended to view her son's body or have an open-casket funeral.

"I didn't want to remember him that way," she said

The family requested cremation. They chose an urn. Never once did they open the casket.

A month later, they got a call from the Port Mortuary.

"He was asking did we look at the body?" said Tracy Maiville, 32, Angus' sister.

Kathy Angus, a doctor's office manager, didn't know the reason for the call at the time.

"I felt bad because I thought maybe someone had done this wonderful job and we didn't even look," she said.

Then in November 2011, she got another call.

Officials said Daniel Angus' arm had been fused perpendicular to his body in the explosion, so a mortuary official ordered it to be cut off and stuffed into his pants leg.

The grieving began again.

"No apology was made. They stood by their actions, claiming they did what they needed to do," Kathy Angus said.

During the ordeal, not one military official, politician or mortician apologized, the Angus family said.

Their attorney, Mark J. O'Brien of Tampa, said they aren't out for money and haven't filed a lawsuit.

"It will all depend on how much more sacrifice the family is willing to be put through. Lawsuits are difficult. And they'll have to relive this incident again," he said.

The Angus family only has the things Daniel Angus left behind: 4-year-old daughter Kaitlyn, an ATV, an old Chevrolet Silverado with a lift kit, and 28 years of memories.

"Daniel gave his life fighting for our freedoms and we are going to fight for justice for him," Kathy Angus said.

They are hoping to add an apology and permanent changes at the mortuary to that legacy.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Family of slain Marine await apology after Air Force mortuary scandal 05/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 7:21am]
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