Army conducting gravesite accountability
April 12, 2013
- Using a smart phone app, the team captured headstone images and reviewed interment records
- IMCOM's goal is to complete 100-percent accountability of 27 post cemeteries by June 30
- Result will be an online, searchable database of interment information and grave marker images
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Supporting the Army's efforts to bring graves record keeping into the 21st Century, a team from Installation Management Command arrived in Monterey this week to help the Presidio of Monterey upgrade its cemetery operations.
Following up on a vision shared by Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program (Arlington), last fall when she toured the cemeteries at Presidio and the former Benicia Arsenal in Benicia, Calif., the team set out to capture headstone images and review interment records. This effort is part of an Army-wide gravesite accountability initiative to ensure all decedents interred in Army post cemeteries have been identified and are all properly commemorated.
The multi-faceted 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. And it has three steps: scan the cemetery records; photograph the grave markers (back and front); and compare the records with the photograph of the grave markers.
Susan Chandler and Pete Kendrick were part of a four-person IMCOM team that invested the better part of a day training Presidio personnel on the accountability process using the specialized tools. This was followed by a visit to the cemetery to begin documentation.
While there is a final review process, the photographers must pay extreme attention to a lot of details during the process to ensure the photo-quality criteria are met, said Chandler.
"This work honors all those who rest in our cemetery," said Kendrick. "Visitors will know their loved ones are treated with dignity and respect and are in an environment befitting their sacrifice," he added.
The enterprise-wide gravesite accountability effort is at the direction of the Secretary of the Army, who in 2011 directed commands to account for all interred in Army cemeteries and to raise the standards of cemetery operations.
"The accountability is what we're going after," said Byron Tatsch, Presidio of Monterey Internal Review and Audit Compliance Officer. "We have to account for every grave marker in the Army."
With policy oversight from the Army National Military Cemeteries, IMCOM is following the lead of Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 300,000 gravesites have been validated. The same business rules and best practices applied at ANC were applied here at Presidio's cemetery.
The ultimate result of these activities will be automated cemetery operations and management across all Army cemeteries through: 100-percent accountability of all those interred at Army post cemeteries; an online, searchable database of interment information and grave marker images viewable by the public; and a smart phone application that allows cemetery visitors to easily determine grave locations.
IMCOM's goal is 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.
"The accountability mission leads to sustainable, standardized cemetery operations, and will uniformly enhance and dignify the visitor experience," said Kendrick.