Local

June 7, 2013

Fort Huachuca gravesite accountability mission almost complete

Staff Sgt. Kristine Smedley
Pfc. Christopher Kluber, Fort Huachuca Honor Guard, takes a picture of Lt. Col. James Rivero’s gravesite at the Fort Huachuca Cemetery May 14, as part of IMCOM Cemetery Operations which is creating an online database for all IMCOM cemeteries.

Pfc. Christopher Kluber, Fort Huachuca Honor Guard, takes a picture of Lt. Col. James Rivero’s gravesite at the Fort Huachuca Cemetery May 14, as part of IMCOM Cemetery Operations which is creating an online database for all IMCOM cemeteries.

Fort Huachuca joined efforts with the Installation Management Command Cemetery Operations team last week, beginning the review of Fort Huachuca’s cemetery interment records and grave markers.

During their weeklong stay, the IMCOM team trained select volunteers from various Fort Huachuca garrison organizations on the accountability processes and the specialized tools that were used, and guided them through the process.

Mike Barber, Fort Huachuca Cemetery Operations point of contact, said, “I think it went great. It well exceeded our expectations. The [IMCOM] team that came in was fantastic.”

According to an IMCOM news release, the IMCOM Cemetery Operations team intends to complete 100-percent accountability of 27 post cemeteries at 17 different locations by June 30. Fort Huachuca’s cemetery was their fourth stop since April.

The gravesite accountability mission process consisted of capturing clean and clear images of the 2,948 headstones. The pictures were then sent to the verification team which ensured the pictures were correctly taken and that the name and gravesite location on record matched the headstone.

Once verified, the analyst reviewed the actual records and compared the specific data, such as the name spelling, date-of-birth, date-of-death or inscriptions on the headstone.

“We want to be able to assure Family members that we have complete accountability, where your loved one is interred, where we say they are interred, that is where they are at,” Barber explained.

“I’m extremely comfortable in saying we do have 100 percent accountability because we track things very closely and we monitor it. Other than validating what they Army has directed us to do, its an insurer that the Families are comfortable, they have that warm and fuzzy feeling that their loved one is in fact where they are supposed to be. [This mission] is to pay our respects and honors to the Families, as well as the deceased, by verifying that for them.”

The end result will allow the public to view all IMCOM cemeteries online, complete with digitized photographs of the headstones, the record of interment, and locate the exact gravesite location via a global position system application.

Pete Kendrick, IMCOM Cemetery Operations coordinator, said, “They have the option of being able to do a virtual visit, and that would not have existed before. It not only helps from the standpoint of doing an actual visit, whether its every one or two years, but it allows them the ability in between to be able to visit.”

According to Kendrick, the online database should be available around the end of 2014.




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