The Widder Curry: A Follow-up Visit to Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery

by on July 19, 2013 · 6 comments

in Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego, Veterans

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“This is unacceptable!” says the Widder Curry on her most recent visit to Ft Rosecrans in mid-July. (All photos by Judi Curry)

Editor:  Just recently, the VA announced that a new director will be taking over the Ft Rosecrans – and Miramar – cemeteries in mid-August. Douglas Ledbetter, an Air Force vet and former director of the national cemeteries in Illinois and Nebraska (more on Ledbetter at the end of this post).  Apparently, the Ft Rosecrans cemetery has been a revolving door for short-time directors over the years. Peter Young – the former director – was on board less than a year. And the director before him served only one year.

We don’t know if this is due to the Widder Curry taking on this issue of the conditions at the Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery or not, but here is here latest report of her most visit.

Ft Rosecrans jc July2013 01After celebrating one of the widows of my support group birthday, we thought it would be nice to drive up to Ft. Rosecrans to visit our husbands and see what, if any progress, was being made at the cemetery.

Since August of 2012, I have been writing articles about the deplorable condition of the cemetery. Last month Turko (KUSI) did a report on the cemetery and, although it was pointing out how long it has taken for anything constructive to be accomplished, he felt that a “turn around” was taking place. Maybe. And maybe not.

Since I appeared briefly on the program –  I thought that maybe getting Turko involved really would make a difference. The footage that was aired – Memorial Day, for example – was not the current conditions of the cemetery. Today was worse.

Ft. Rosecrans jc Julyl2013 02In the past, Candy, Irene and I have been able to visit the niche in the wall where our husbands are interred. This time everything was blocked off and unless we were willing to take a 1/4-1/2 mile hike through construction cones, mesh, rebar, etc. there was no way we could access the area. I want to point out that when I went to the cemetery on July 6th, I could not get to Bob’s wall either. This means that if I wanted to go “visit” my husband’s resting place, I am unable to do so. This is just not acceptable.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why ALL of the graves and walls must be realigned at the same time. In fact, I cannot understand why they have to be realigned at all. Give us a little earthquake and they will be out of alignment again.

I keep hearing that the water has been turned off and no sprinklers are working. Interesting, because I stopped at the two water faucets on the side of the road to see if water was available to place in vases for flowers, and, to my surprise, water came out of both of them. Damn it! If there is water available then use it.

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Artificial turf.

And now, as was on the 6th, there is a sign telling me “Road temporarily closed. Sorry for the inconvenience”. This is the ONLY sign telling what is going on and guess where it is. It is at a “V” where you can no longer drive the road to the wall. And…it is right in front of a small area where the green “grass” (sic) is artificial turf. If this isn’t ludicrous. Right in front of the road leading to some of the wall niches, is a beautiful patch of green. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Candy pointed to it and said, “look how green that is. Why can’t the rest of the area be green.” When I got out of the car to take a picture, I realized that it was not grass at all. What a waste of money; what a joke to those of us having loved ones at the cemetery.

Not too many years ago I visited Arlington Cemetery – a place where there are all sorts of weather conditions, from heat, to ice, to snow, etc. That cemetery was beautiful – green; well kept up. Funny, just the way that Ft. Rosecrans used to be.

I don’t believe a thing that the administration of the cemetery is telling me about completion of what ever they are doing there. I heard it would be complete by August, 2013. Friends, that is two weeks away. This cemetery is an embarrassment; this cemetery is an affront to all of the service men and women buried there. This never should have been allowed to happen; and if work needed to be done it should have been done a little at a time. It makes me physically ill to see the eroded surroundings of a once beautiful area. Shame on Ft. Rosecrans and their administration.

Editor’s Note on  Douglas Ledbetter:  According to the U-T San Diego:

 Ledbetter oversaw five cemeteries in Illinois and Iowa, including the Civil War-era Rock Island Confederate Cemetery and Oakdale Soldiers’ Lot. Before that, he was in charge of Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Nebraska. …

 Ledbetter is married and has three children. In the Air Force, he participated in Operation Provide Comfort, the 1991 mission to help the Kurdish people in Iraq following the first Gulf War, among other postings.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn July 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Does Rosecrans recycle water?
Do any national cemeteries recycle water?
The new one up by Bakersfield has no grass at all. And yes, it is not attractive at all, but maybe we have to rethink the groundcover at cemeteries.


Tom Cairns July 20, 2013 at 7:02 am

They may use recycled water. I was there at 3 in the afternoon of June 20th, and sprinklers were watering in the southwest area of the cemetery. The water gave off the odor of sewage, very strong. My question would be, is it safe to walk or sit on the grass watered with this water?


judi curry July 20, 2013 at 10:21 am

I tried to check on the recycled water after your last comment Tom. Someone was to call me back but they didn’t. I will check again.


OB Cindi July 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Ironic that government regulations ensure that private cemeteries are kept up to reasonable standards. But government owned/run cemeteries don’t have to reach the same requirements. So who regulates the regulators?


judi curry July 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Good question. I will see if I can find out the answer!


Scott September 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

This cemetery is surrounded by water and a Navy Sub base at the base of the hill. How do submarines get fresh water when they are underway for long periods? Its called desalinzation plants. One self contained unit will fit in the bed of a pickup truck and makes about 10,000 gals per day…..that’s more than enough to water the whole place in a 5 day period!! Put in a holding tank with some pumps and use the seawater….its free…..who knows…the Navy might even have some surplus equipment if they would just ask!!


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