The historic, but largely ignored, Mare Island Naval cemetery in Northern California has been somewhat of an eye sore for more than 20 years.
But now, a new initiative from the City of Vallejo may transfer the neglected cemetery to the Department of Veterans Affairs once and for all, and to increase the space available so that new graves may be added—giving local veterans the chance to have the extraordinary Naval cemetery as their final resting place.
Ralph Parrott, a retired Navy Captain, brought the cemeteries condition to the attention of local media and to Connecting Vets. On Monday, Mr. Parrott was on a conference call with Vallejo, Calif. Mayor Bob Sampayan, where he assured the City would formally request the VA to assume ownership of the cemetery.
If requesting the VA take back ownership of the cemetery is the stick, the carrot is the City plans to offer up additional adjacent land for additional grave sites to the VA—something the VA desperately needs, according to Mr. Parrot.
Mayor Sampayan told Mr. Parrott the “budgetary business and the hiring of a new City Manager” may cause the submission of the request to be delayed for a few weeks, according to notes of the call obtained by Connecting Vets.
However, Mr. Parrott is more than confident in Mayor Sampayan’s ability to get this done.
“I want to thank Mayor Sampayan for his leadership and I am confident he can muster the needed support and political pressure to ensure a successful outcome,” says Mr. Parrott.
The cemetery, located at the now closed-down Mare Island Shipyard, is 160-years-old and is the final resting place for three Medal of Honor recipients, as well as Anna Key Turner, the fifth child of Star Spangled Banner author Francis Scott Key.
The City of Vallejo has provided some limited upkeep, such as mowing the grass and pruning portions of the overgrown acacia trees.
Mr. Parrott strongly feels the VA should maintain the sacred grounds.
In September of last year, dozens of volunteers came to the cemetery for a National Day of Service, and gave the site some much needed clean up.
The City of Vallejo previously submitted a proposal to the DoD that would allow innovative readiness training (IRT) teams to provide maintenance and preservation of the cemetery, including replacing grave markers. The project, if approved, would start in 2019.