Mortician involved in sawing off Tampa area Marine's arm resigns
TAMPA - The resignation of a Dover Port Mortuary supervisor who ordered their dead son's arm sawed off so it could fit into his Marine uniform is bringing little solace to a Thonotosassa couple. The Air Force should have fired Quinton Keel immediately after learning that Keel ordered Sgt. Daniel Angus's arm sawed off over the objections of embalmers and without the family's permission, said Mark O'Brien, an attorney representing Kathy and William Angus. The Air Force acknowledged Keel's resignation in a one-sentence statement this afternoon, but did not say when he resigned or why. Sgt. Daniel Angus, 28, died in January 2010, after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Helmand province in Afghanistan. The next month, as the body was being prepared for a funeral, Keel ordered the removal of Angus' left arm bone after employees had difficulty placing the arm in the uniform. The employees complained about how Keel treated Angus' body, and Keel later retaliated against those employees, according to the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency created to protect whistleblowers.The Angus family did not find out what happened to their son until the findings of an investigation by the OSC into problems at the mortuary were presented to President Barack Obama and Congress in November. Kathy and William Angus "would have hoped that once it came to light, the Air Force would have fired him immediately," O'Brien said. "Instead months passed and it took a report to the president of the United States from the Office of Special Counsel to spur this decision. The decision to fire Mr. Keel should have been made the moment the Air Force became aware of what Mr. Keel did to their son. So in a sense, yes, too little and far too late." O'Brien said that no one from the Air Force has talked to the Angus family about Keel's resignation. "However, last Thursday I had dinner with President Obama in Miami and he told me in private that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta takes this matter very seriously and so did he," O'Brien said. Angus, a 2000 graduate of Armwood High School, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003. He served in Iraq from July 2004 to February 2005 and again from December 2005 to March 2006. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant on May 1, 2007. Along the way, he was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, two Good Conduct Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a number of service decorations. Angus' unit, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., was part of the first wave of the 30,000 military personnel surge sent to Afghanistan in hopes of defeating al-Qaida and the Taliban. "He was an excellent Marine," said Kathy Angus a few days after her son was killed. She was in Dover, Del., awaiting the return of her son's remains. "The structure was good for him. He was an excellent leader." Keel's actions were part of a series of problems involving the mishandling of remains at the mortuary that touched off the Office of Special Counsel investigation. This week, a panel headed by retired Gen. John Abizaid recommended sweeping changes at the organizations charged with handling the remains of those killed in action. "As three employees at the mortuary disclosed mismanagement and mishandling of human remains, Mr. Keel and two other supervisors illegally tried to suppress their disclosures and punish them for their whistleblowing," the OSC stated in a press release issued Friday afternoon. "It is not surprising that Mr. Keel chose to resign. The Office of Special Counsel's report of investigation, which will be made public in mid-March and which the Air Force received in late January, found that Mr. Keel retaliated against the whistleblowers. We remain in communication with senior officials at the Air Force and await their final decisions on disciplinary action for the two supervisors who remain on staff."
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