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Ex-director at military mortuary that mishandled 9/11 remains resigns

One of the three former supervisors accused of "gross mismanagement" at the military's mortuary in Dover, Del., has resigned after a report this week detailed how the remains of America's war dead were mishandled, including those of some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

M. Alex Johnson

M. Alex Johnson is a reporter for msnbc.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The man, Quinton "Randy" Keel, 44, was demoted from his civilian position as the mortuary's division director last year when a special counsel's investigation found that the center had lost and mishandled body parts and was plagued by poor supervision. The Air Force confirmed a report by The Washington Post that Keel left the service Monday. It said it would have no further comment.

The Dover mortuary, which is run by the Air Force, is the first port of entry for the bodies of America's war dead. After the 9/11 attacks, it also handled the remains of some of the victims who died at the Pentagon and in the plane crash at Shanksville, Pa.

Keel was personally accused of "a pattern of negligence, misconduct and dishonesty" for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers who revealed the mismanagement at Dover

Outrage at the handling of remains spiked this week when an independent military panel reported widespread command and discipline shortcomings at Dover. Two paragraphs in the 86-page report revealed for the first time that some cremated remains of the 9/11 victims had been dumped in a landfill, a development the White House called "unacceptable."

msnbc.com: Pentagon admits it dumped some 9/11 remains in a landfill

"It is not surprising that Mr. Keel chose to resign," the federal Office of Special Counsel, which had urged further disciplinary proceedings, said in a statement Friday (.pdf). 

"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."

Also disciplined last year — but not fired — were the mortuary's commander, Col. Robert Edmondson, who was reassigned and reprimanded, and his deputy, Trevor Dean, a civilian, who took a less prominent job at the mortuary.

As for Keel, one senior defense officials told NBC News on Friday that "if he hadn't quit, he would have been fired."

NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube contributed to this report.

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