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Va. funeral home switches colonel's body, report says

Dec. 2, 2013 - 05:15PM   |  
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A Virginia funeral home made a mistake and buried the wrong body in place of a decorated Army colonel who was supposed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The body of Joseph Malvin “Mal” Chapman, 80, had been switched, according to his son, Jim McLean.

The family was appalled that not only did the funeral home mix up the bodies, they dressed the wrong man in Chapman’s uniform.

“My dad’s uniform ... that’s degradation beyond words for a military man,” McLean told WJLA-TV News.

Chapman, of Fairfax, Va., was a grandfather 17 times over, according to his obituary. He was a signals and communications officer commissioned in 1955. He served for 28 years, with assignments in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Germany.

“This just isn’t right,” McLean said. “This should never, never happen. This is something you read in a fiction novel or see in a movie on TV.”

McLean realized immediately something was wrong, but said when he alerted the funeral home staff, he was dismissed.

“His twin was here — my Uncle Alvin came from Tennessee. He immediately recognized it wasn’t him. The nose was totally different,” McLean said.

McLean told WJLA the funeral director refused to address the family, but eventually checked the toe tag and realized it wasn’t Chapman’s body in the casket.

A manager at Everly Funeral Home in Fairfax reportedly told McLean that his father has been buried in Winchester, Va., and that a judge would have to order an exhumation.

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