Soldier-to-Soldier accountability has been a staple of military history since its inception and remains so today.
Under the guidance of the United States Army Installation Management Command, a gravesite accountability process got started at Fort Bragg with the arrival of an IMCOM team May 3 to review gravesites at the Main Post Cemetery, off Randolph Street.
Accountability will be completed at 29 IMCOM post cemeteries on 19 installations, said Peter Kendrick, cemetery operations coordinator.
The Army National Cemeteries Program plans to oversee the initiative to review more than 40,000 graves by June 30.
The directive to account for all those interred in Army cemeteries was issued in 2011 by John M. McHugh, the U.S. secretary of the Army, after records problems were discovered at Arlington National Cemetery.
The accountability process involves reviewing records of interment, the grave marker and date, and collecting geospatial information of the marker’s exact location, Kendrick explained.
Support was provided by the 82nd Airborne Division, 20th Engineer Brigade and the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, said Kendrick, who trained Soldiers in the accountability process.
It is a process that involves photographing the front and back of each of the more than 2,600 grave markers at the Main Post Cemetery, and obtaining the coordinates of the grave using an iPhone app, said Staff Sgt. Angel Santos, a Soldier assigned to the 20th Eng. Bde.
The Army Analytics Group developed the program used at the cemeteries, Kendrick said.
The photographs and geospatial information is verified by Soldiers who compare the information to identification records.
A discrepancy such as not having a spouse annotated on the tombstone makes the accountability work important, said Sgt. Stephen Hyman, also of the 20th Eng. Bde.
“It’s a big detail. We realize this is personal — it’s just good to help people locate their (deceased) loved ones,” said Hyman, who helped take photographs, May 9, scouted any damaged gravestones, and also provided cleaning detail.
A long-term benefit of the documentation process is that Families may be able to locate and view gravesites online as opposed to physically traveling to Fort Bragg, said Mark Jordan, chief, Military Personnel Division, Directorate of Human Resources.
He too said gravesite accountability is an important process.
“Cemeteries or burials are for the living — all of our fallen comrades deserve to be treated with the utmost respect.”