April 6, 2003: Researching The Cemetery
I discover a kiosk near Visitor Center where records of burials and a map machine for locating graves by name is located. Begin to research locations of war dead by going through record books. Strategy is to find soldiers who were in their early 20’s and/or died during the time they fought in a particular war. In record book DOD = Date of Death, however, find that often entries in book are DOI = Date of internment (burial at cemetery) not date of soldier’s death.
Note that usually war or wars that soldier fought in are listed on tombstones as well as service branch and sometimes rank, but not always. Later discover that many of Vietnam dead do not list name of war on tombstone, perhaps because they did not want to be identified with this war.
Based on date of death I look up graves for soldiers who appeared to have died in war based on known dates of wars e.g. WWII 1940-42. Map machine at kiosk allows you to print out locations of grave once name is found in record book. I print out 11 dead using map machine, but I am only able to find three graves in field. System is not accurate. Three are listed below.
I begin to take pictures of tombstones I visit as well as cemetery in general. I take pictures of three tombstones I find:
52 years old at death-may have died in Vietnam because of year of death.
Flt. O U.S Army Air Corps
Purple Heart POW
73 years old at death. Probably did not die in war.
CDR US Navy
82 years old at death. Probably did not die in war.
Begin to decipher some of the acronyms found on the tombstones:
KIA = Killed in Action PH = Purple Heart
POW = Prisoner of War CDR = Commander
Flt. O = Flight Officer CPL = Corporal
PFC = Private First Class ENS = Ensign
I conclude that it will not be easy to locate war dead using existing written records available at kiosk since maps often do not give adequate direction to graves and/or do not reflect actual date of death. Also there is no one to ask since Visitor Center is always closed on the weekends and holidays when I come to sketch.