DOVER, Del. -- Investigators are looking into whether the remains of a fallen Mooresville airman were misplaced when he arrived at the Dover Air Force Base back in 2009.
Air Force Capt. Mark R. McDowell was killed when his F-15E Strike Eagle crashed on July 18, 2009 near the Ghazni Province over Afghanistan. He was 26 years old and two months into his first mission in Afghanistan when his plane went down, killing him and his weapons officer.
Dover Air Force officials said the remains could belong to McDowell or his friend Air Force Capt. Thomas J. Gramith, who was also killed in action. Both men are buried together at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Stan McDowell, Mark’s father, received the call last Saturday from Dover Air Force officials about the possible mix-up.
“The remains are in bags, so during this analysis they had one bag going from one station to the next station, and the guy transferring it noticed there was not anything in the bag,” he said.
It was a bag that may have contained more of Mark's remains. A mortuary representative told him they'd been investigating this for the last year and a half but may never know what happened to those remains, or even which airman they belonged to.
McDowell is a man of faith and says that's whats helping him through this. He knows his son is in heaven.
"He’s separated from his body and even though it’s another tragedy that maybe these remains were not handled appropriately, I look at it that...Mark is in heaven and so these body parts, these remains, it's just stuff and it’s not Mark."
McDowell's family said they were assured by the Air Force that something like this will never happen again.
NewsChannel 36 asked Mark's father if he is confident the remains he buried are of his son.
"Before Saturday, I would have had total confidence. But now, I guess there is some doubts because of this situation.”