News: Miramar National Cemetery hosts first burial
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
Miramar National Cemetery hosted its first burial Nov. 22, 2010, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., marking the official opening of the facility.
Ceremony dignitaries interred veterans Domi N. Yacapin, Mary J. Crothers, Reginald Mills, and Julius and Alma Raetz.
Officials first dedicated the cemetery in January after nearly 10 years of lobbying efforts by local veterans to open a new national cemetery in the San Diego area.
“I’m happy for the veterans in San Diego County,” said Kirk Leopard, the director of Fort Rosecrans and Miramar national cemeteries. “After 10 years worth of work, it’s a pleasure to be a part of this.”
The ceremony featured a joint-force color guard, an Air Force honor guard to present the American flag to the veterans’ families, a Marine Corps honor guard escorting the remains to the gravesite and an Army honor guard to execute the rifle salute.
Ceremony officials chose a joint color guard to represent the spectrum of veterans living in the San Diego area.
The fact that Miramar National Cemetery rests on land that belonged to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar holds special significance for many veterans hoping to be buried there.
“We have many people who served at Naval Air Station Miramar or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It’s a special significance to be buried on the same land they used to fly over and work,” said Leopard.
Miramar National Cemetery is more than 300 acres and will host the first casket burials in the San Diego area since Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery ceased casket burials in 1966, explained Leopard. The closest national cemetery hosting casket burials was Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, Calif.
“It’s always good for us to provide burial services as close to home as possible,” said Steve L. Muro, the acting undersecretary for memorial affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Miramar National Cemetery will also feature a memorial wall honoring veterans lost at sea and missing in action.
The grounds are large enough to host approximately 235,000 veterans, with room for 11,500 conventional grave sites.
The first casket burial is scheduled for February 2011.