Skip to comments.AP Exclusive: US ignores vet graves in Philippines (as does Filipino govt)
Posted on 07/03/2011 4:35:10 AM PDT by markomalley
CLARK, Philippines (AP) -- Walking along the rows of tombstones here offers a glimpse of the wars America has fought and the men and women who waged them. But most of the grave markers have been half-buried for 20 years, and there is little hope that the volcanic ash obscuring names, dates and epitaphs will be cleared any time soon.
Clark Veterans Cemetery was consigned to oblivion in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo's gigantic eruption forced the U.S. to abandon the sprawling air base surrounding it. Retired U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors volunteer to keep watch, relying on donations to try to maintain the grounds, but they lament that they're helplessly short on funds to fix things, and that Washington is unwilling to help.
"It's the veterans' cemetery that America forgot," Vietnam War veteran and ex-Navy officer Robert Chesko said.
As America marks Independence Day, the U.S. veterans who collect funds to care for the cemetery renewed their calls for Washington to fund and take charge of the work.
Workers at the cemetery north of Manila recently dug to fully expose a gravestone for an Army sergeant who died in World War II in the Philippines. They discovered his wife's name engraved under his and a long-hidden tribute: "Daughter, sister, wife and mother of veterans."
It's impossible to say what else remains hidden at the 17-acre (seven-hectare) cemetery. It holds the remains of 8,600 people, including 2,200 American veterans and nearly 700 allied Philippine Scouts who saw battle in conflicts from the early 1900s to the resistance against brutal Japanese occupation troops in WWII.
Clark's dead also include military dependents, civilians who worked for the U.S. wartime government and at least 2,139 mostly unidentified soldiers whose marble tombstones are labeled "Unknown."
(Excerpt) Read more at hosted.ap.org ...
First I’ve heard about this. Do you have a source link by any chance?
To be reunited with their loved ones in Christ. Feeling the pains of this world no more and in the presence of Love forever.
For to them, it will be as waking from a deep sleep, to new vistas fresher than the Garden of Eden and with more friends than they are able to count.
Clark cemetery site was established
in 1950 and contains non-World
War II related remains from
the base and other U.S. cemeteries
in Manila. It Is the last active
USAF cemetery outside of the U.S..
The graves date back to 1900.
All branches of the United States
armed forces are represented
as well as PHILIPPINE Scouts,
Philippine Constabulary, and citizens
of other nations. The CEMETERY
contains 12,000 grave sites in an area
encompassing 20.365 acres.
Erected by thirteenth Air Force, 4 July 1984
The Clark Veterans Cemetery was budgeted for and maintained by the U.S. Air Force from 1947 to 1991. When the Air Force departed the Philippines in November 1991, an MOA was signed with the Philippine Air Force where the latter agreed to provide proper care for the cemetery. In less than two years, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) took over control of the cemetery. No care was provided to the cemetery by the Philippine AF/CDC from November 1991 to June 1994.
VFW Post 2485 took over the job of maintaining the cemetery after deciding the cemetery condition dishonored all veterans buried there. A work force of U.S. volunteers (from various veterans organizations) was organized for the initial cleanup. Limited funds derived from donations were utilized.
In November 1994, VFW Post 2485 signed an MOA with CDC giving the VFW permission to maintain the Clark Cemetery and open it for burials of U.S. veterans, including Philippine Scouts. This MOA was renewed in February 2001 and again in March 2006 with an expiration date of March 2031.
The cemetery work force consists of a cemetery chairman from VFW Post 2485, five full time local nationals, and various other volunteers as needed to do the entire cemetery maintenance.
In February 1996, CDC contracted for grass cutting, approximately 10 days per month, and a clean-up crew for trash and leaves on a daily basis. This didnt work out, so now VFW Post 2485 takes care of the entire cemetery maintenance.
At one time, support from the U.S. Congress to resolve the cemetery funding problems was led by Representative Montgomery in the Committee for Veteran Affairs. This action apparently died from lack of interest.
The Clark Veterans Cemetery receives no U.S. or Philippine government funding. VFW Post 2485 can only budget cemetery maintenance through money donations from various individuals, military organizations, veterans groups, and civic/business organization
The Clark Veterans Cemetery was formed between 1947 and 1950 by moving the headstones/markers and remains from at least four other U.S. military cemeteries (Fort Stotsenburg 1 & 2, Fort McKinley, and Sangley Point naval cemetery) to the new 20.365 acre, 12,000 plot cemetery located just inside the main gate of Clark Air Base. All WWII dead were moved to the American Cemetery in Manila.
This is worthy of further investigation/reporting. Suggest someone start here: http://www.va.gov/oig/
That is the Dept. of Veteran Affair Inspector General’s site.
It is true... I have talked to some Ham operators that were there to activate Ham Radio on Tarawa and they saw the excavation... I have read an article about it but I cannot recall where.
With corruption in the US in the proper burial and markings of our brave soldiers, coupled with recent discoveries of dumbo not allowing the word God to be used in burials in Houston, this administration could are less about our brave soldiers.
Proves a sad truth “God and the soldier all men adore in time of trouble-then no more.when the shootin’ is over ,and all things are righted God is forgotten and the soldier is slighted.” we leave behind thousands in our habitual marching off to make the world safe for democracy.And when men came home from that war to end all wars -a small band of men erected a memorial,in keeping with the habits of such men, on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert. They did not demand others provide the material ,nor maintain it.They did not put a fence and guard at the gate. They asked only their memorial to the dead of all wars be allowed to remain in memory of those who gave all. John Riley Bembry was caretaker-and passed that duty to Mr.Henry Sandoz until our memorial was stolen by some misguided ,passionate thief in 2010.Corrupted Courts have mandated it be defaced-when they could not in their misplaced animus force others remove it. And even in Cemetery like at Houston National By order of the Veterans Administrator God is now excluded-and Veterans discriminated against.Now tell me again why it is any surprise that Washington has no ears for the heartbreaking dishonor of of honored dead on foreign fields?
I have lived, worked and visited some strange places, many of which have cemeteries for the British war dead. Although the Brits aren’t on the friendliest of terms with government of the Sudan and Burma, for example, their burial grounds are impeccably kept. The British cemetary at El Alamein is one of the most heart-wrenching places on earth. This article makes me wonder if there are other forgotten cemetaries where our people lay buried. I hope not.
The discovery was made by History Flight, of Marathon, Fla., working with the with WFI Research Group of Fall River, Mass., on the island 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Tuesday.
“This is an incredible find,” said Donald Allen, an Ohio author who wrote the book “Tarawa - the Aftermath.” “These were somebody’s sons, brothers, fathers. It's extraordinarily meaningful to know where they are.”
The three-day 1943 battle between U.S. and Japanese forces on Tarawa, now part of Kiribati, was one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Campaign, claiming the lives of more than 1,600 Americans and 4,500 Japanese defenders, only 17 of whom survived. Many grave markers were lost when air strips were built following the battle, the newspaper said.
The U.S. Army tried to locate the bodies starting in 1946 but only 49 percent of the known victims were found. History Flight officials told the Times it had located eight burial pits on the island and will notify relatives as remains are identified.
Those remains now being discovered are due to the "fog of war.:
I’ve been there as we have a company on the former Clark Air Force Base which is the hub of one of our companies in Asia. It wasn’t as presentable as it should be. But no one almost goes there. Pissed me off when 3 graves were just open and one of our colleagues just covered it and bought flowers for the graves. He paid cash to the security people to have them clean up part of the graves right after business were done with the locals.
The entire complex/AFB Devt is supposedly haunted and I “sort of” believed it. The 5 most haunted places in the Philippines is Clark AB. It’s bigger than USC and UCLA combined and the guards told me never to be around during night time.
(it’s in Tagalog but the 2nd part is about the haunted AFB)
It brought back memories of my seeing the Clark AFB, Philippines, Cemetary back in the late 1980's, when I was stationed at the former Subic Bay Navy Base, Philippines. I made a few weekend runs up to Angeles City for a change of scenery from the Subic Bay area and once for a batchelors party during my time there.
You could see the Clark Cemetary and Main Gate Monument from across one of the main drags in Angeles City, Field (or Fields) Avenue. Clark AFB property took up one side of Field Avenue and many drinking/bar establishments took up the other side with street and entry views of the base and cemetary.
Below are a couple of links that document the history of the former U.S. Clark Air Force base in Angeles City, RP that might be of interest to those who passed thru there.
There is still a significant population of American Military Retirees (both Filipino and non-Filipino) and Veterans residing in the areas around our former major military installations in the Philippines, Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base. There are active VFW and American Legion Posts in both the Angeles City area and Subic Bay area. Many who have passed away there in the past few years are buried at Clark Cemetary.