STATEMENT BY RAYMOND J. COSTANZO FORMER SUPERINTENDENT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY BEFORE THE VETERANS' AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SECOND SESSION, 105TH CONGRESS.
28 JANUARY 1998
I served as Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery from May of 1975 through December of 1990; and for three years prior that, I served as the Deputy Superintendent, a total of approximately 19 years.
A short time prior to my assignment at Arlington National Cemetery, Public Law 93-43 was implemented. This law provided for the transfer of all Army national cemeteries except Arlington and Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemeteries to the then Veterans Administration.
This law also provided that the Secretary of the Army, and the then Administrator of the Veterans Administration, conduct a joint study to determine whether or not Arlington should also be transferred to the Veterans Administration, and whether or not the restrictive interment eligibility at Arlington should be continued. I believe that this joint study was completed sometime during calendar year 1974. The completed study recommended that Arlington remain under the Secretary of the Army, and further that the Secretary review the interment eligibility requirements with a view toward possibly relaxing some of the eligibility requirements.
Some the relaxation of the restrictions were implemented in 1977 and provided that eligibility for burial be approved for:
Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart. Honorably discharged veterans separated before 1 October 1949 with a service-connected disability at 30% or more. Honorably discharged veterans may be interred in the same gravesite in which a close relative is already buried.
During calendar year 1980, the first Columbarium was completed at Arlington, and provides for the inurnment of all honorably discharged veterans and their dependents.
During my term as Superintendent, 55,501 interments and/or inurnments were accomplished. Of this total, 95 interments were approved for individuals who did not meet the restrictive eligibility requirement. A breakout of these 95 cases are:
Six people with no military service: Five people who were veterans and who were killed as a result of terrorist action. Thirty-three people who were veterans and who were considered to have performed unique service to this country or to the Federal Government. Fifty-one people who were interred in the same gravesite with a close relative.
A breakout of the 6 people who did not have any military service are:
US Ambassador to Pakistan who was killed in an airplane crash together with the President of Pakistan.
An agent of the CIA who was assassinated by Greek terrorists in Athens, Greece.
A Foreign Service Officer killed by terrorists in Lebanon.
A Political Officer in the Beirut Embassy killed by terrorists. A CIA official killed in the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbee, Scotland.
An official of the Office of Strategic Service during World War II who provided critical liaison with British Intelligence.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my formal comments. If you have any questions, I would be pleased to respond to them at this time.