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UPDATED: Bureaucracy delays Clark Veterans Cemetery restoration

A headstone for Army Staff Sgt. Hershel Lee Covery at Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines shows how nearly half of his headstone was covered by volcanic ash after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. (Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association)

More than seven months after Congress required the U.S. government to take over the care and maintenance of Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines, nothing has happened.

A 1991 volcanic eruption left the roughly 8,600 tombstones in the cemetery under up to a foot of ash just as the U.S. military was leaving Clark Air Base. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post has taken care of the cemetery since 1994, but it would take at least $2.5 million to repair all of the damage caused by the volcano.

In January, President Obama signed a law requiring the American Battle Monuments Commission to restore and operate the cemetery, but the commission has been lethargic about fulfilling its obligation, said John Gilbert, commander of VFW Post 2485 in the Philippines.

“Their intent is to do nothing until it goes away, I think,” Gilbert said. “Now that’s based on my view and little else, but they have not been the least bit forthcoming up to this point.”

Gilbert received a July 22 letter from ABMC Secretary Max Cleland that made it sound like the commission may never take over operations at the cemetery.

“As you know, the U.S. and Philippine Governments are in the process of negotiating an agreement to allow us to maintain the cemetery,” Cleland wrote. “We cannot predict when, or if such an agreement will be reached, but until then, we have no authority to act.”

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Comments

  1. Ray Haffenden Says:
    August 15th, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Perhaps the Department of Tourism could get involved as it would be a tourist site of interest.
    That would encourage the Philippine Authorities to push this through!

  2. Walter Graue Says:
    August 15th, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Just as with our so-called Tricare for Life” administration here, our government has turned out to be a deadbeat liar. As former examples of governmental crime and fraud go her, the money has probably been re-distributed into various bank accounts.
    In discussing events or non-events here, 2 factrors emerge. One is that most veteransd here don’t vote, so they have no channel to a congressman. Even if they did, most congressmen ignore the complaints.
    Another factor is that many recently arrived retirees and veterans make it abundently apparent that they are not intersted in connection with anything military, unless it directly benefits them personally,

  3. Anthony Grimm Says:
    August 19th, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    It just proves what Military Retirees and Veterans have realized for years that our government does not even go by laws that are signed by the President. Military retirees and veterans are not respected by those in DC and where are the Veteran and Military retiree organizations to ensure the US Government do what they commited themselves to do.

  4. Anthony Grimm Says:
    August 19th, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Just another unfilled promise from our leaders in DC who show disdain towards Veterans and Military Retirees on a daily basis

  5. Randy Says:
    August 20th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    The US never should have left without bringing all those soldiers home to cemetaries in the US. We should not have to pay the Phillipine Govt. a dime to keep them up. I say the best long term solution is to relocate the whole thing back to the US. As is the case with many former alies who depended on our troops to secure their freedom, now they only want our money.

  6. Anthony Grimm Says:
    August 21st, 2013 at 8:19 am

    To Randy no money goes to the Philippine Govt for the Clark Veterans Cemetery. All funding raised by the VFW Post goes to individuals paid by donations the VFW post receives to maintain the Clark US Veteran Cemetery.

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