Gravesite Review Underway At Fort Riley’s Cemetery

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FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Army wants to make sure that every gravesite is properly accounted for at cemeteries on installations across the country.

At Fort Riley, crews have been working for weeks to capture the final resting places of around 5,000 people as part of the massive effort.

"We’re taking photographs of the headstones, front and back, and then we’ll upload that into a central database. We’ll go back on the computers and link that up to the records of internment that have been scanned into the system and match the records with the photographs and verify and review all of the information," explained John McGee, Work Management Branch Chief.

"A DOD ID inspection at Arlington National Cemetery a couple of years ago found some misidentified graves. They did 100% accountability there and they thought it would be good to push that down to all of the post cemeteries across the nation," he added.

At Arlington National Cemetery, more than 300,000 gravesites have been validated. The same practices used there are being used at Fort Riley.

The process incorporates many new technologies, including a customized smart phone application to take photos of both the front and back of each grave marker; the Army Mapper tool to capture coordinates of each grave marker location; and a web-based research tool – developed and managed by the Army Analytics Group – to validate the information.

"We’re verifying records with headstones, making sure that all of the information we have is accurate, everybody is in the right spots and locations, updating all of the information so that family and friends can come out and see their loved ones and make sure everybody is taken care of," said Matt Murray, Fort Riley Engineering Technician.

Ultimately, the initiative will create an automated system across Army cemeteries as well as an online, searchable database of interment information and images of grave markers that can be viewed by the public and a smart phone app that allows cemetery visitors to easily locate grave locations.

The goal of Installation Management Command (IMCOM) goal is to complete 100 percent accountability of 27 IMCOM post cemeteries at 17 locations by June 30, culminating in the review of more than 40,000 graves- a project designed to bring Army cemetery operations and record keeping into the 21st century and commemorate those who have served our country.

"A big part of it is to show family and friends that their loved ones are being treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve," McGee added.