Veteran caretakers continue service at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

| January 16, 2015 | 0 Comments
Chris Farley, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific caretaker and military veteran, visits the grave of his parents at the NMCP, Dec. 18. Farley’s father, Bob Farley, served as a colonel in the Marines, and his mother, Nathalie Farley, worked as registered nurse. Farley served in the Navy from 1982 to 1985.

Chris Farley, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific caretaker and military veteran, visits the grave of his parents at the NMCP, Dec. 18. Farley’s father, Bob Farley, served as a colonel in the Marines, and his mother, Nathalie Farley, worked as registered nurse. Farley served in the Navy from 1982 to 1985.

 

Story and photos by Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal
Defense Media Activity, Hawaii News Bureau

HONOLULU — The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) is the final resting place for many military veterans who served across the globe.

The gravesites and memories of these men and women are maintained with dignity, compassion and respect by military veteran caretakers, every day, to ensure they are honored.

Seventeen veteran caretakers are responsible for the upkeep of 112.5 acres of land that serves as the resting place for 55,000 individuals interred. They also ensure the preservation of the memorials at the Honolulu Memorial’s Courts of the Missing.

Veteran caretakers at work.

Veteran caretakers at work.

The memorials honor 18,096 veterans who served in World War II, 8,200 veterans who served in the Korean War, and 2,504 veterans who served in the Vietnam War.

Charles Winder, NMCP caretaker, and Navy and Army veteran, works meticulously to ensure that the work he does at the cemetery is the best that he can deliver.

“What we do is very detail oriented,” Winder said. “To us, the small things matter and keeping a nice, neat appearance, a professional appearance, is very important because the veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice for us deserve nothing less. We take our mission statement very seriously.”

Caretaker’s responsibilities at the cemetery are diverse, with tasks to provide maintenance, turf management, irrigation, and aiding in conducting burials and interments. The work that Winder does is more than just a job for him.

“It’s a very emotional feeling that fills me with pride that I have the privilege to take care of our nation’s vets,” Winder said. “I get heartfelt ‘thanks’ on a daily basis, so it’s a very rewarding job. And being a veteran myself, one day I plan to be interred here. What a great feeling to know that I will lie next to our nation’s heroes and that I will be taken care of just as well.”

Working with veterans at the NMCP reminds some caretakers of when they served years earlier and acts as a way to be a part of something greater.

“I thought it would be great to work with veterans,” said Misty Dods, NMCP caretaker and Army veteran. “I remember getting issued my uniform and standing in formation in the brigade. It was an awakening for me to know that I was going to be a part of something great. It was a proud moment … a tear-eyed moment for me, and continues on today.”

Chris Farley, NMCP caretaker and Navy veteran, attributes much of his success to his parents. His father served as a fighter pilot in the Marines and his mother worked as a registered nurse. Both of Farley’s parents are now at rest at the NMCP.

“It’s nice to be here and to take care of the grounds with this memory right here,” Farley said. “My father was a big influence on my life. He was a Marine aviator, so I had been around Marine and Navy bases up until then. Of course, he motivated me in a few other ways, so I joined the Navy. He made me proud being in the service.”

Farley said that his daily work reminds him of the impact he and his coworkers have at the cemetery.

“I find myself reading the markers a lot when we’re doing maintenance,” Farley said. “There’s a picture in the office that shows a service, and the honor guard is handing the flag to a little boy. Obviously he lost his dad, so I try to keep that in mind when I work here every day.”

Veterans like Winder, Dods and Farley continue to ensure the memory of the deceased and those who have fallen remain honored. Their work helps ensure that our nation’s heroes are respected and, for the approximately 5 million visitors a year, that their story lives on.

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Category: Defense Media Activity, News

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