The American Battle Monuments Commission will soon take over the responsibility of maintaining Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines, said commission spokesman Tim Nosal.
The US and Philippine governments are expected to sign an agreement on Monday that would allow the commission to restore and operate the cemetery, which is on Philippine soil, according to an advisory from the Philippine government.
“We will be able to get to staff to Clark Cemetery within a couple of days or sooner,” Nosal said on Friday.
The cemetery was badly damaged by a 1991 volcanic eruption, which happened just as the U.S. military was leaving Clark Air Base and the Philippines. Since 1994, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter has taken care of the cemetery, but it would take an estimated $2.5 million to remove all the ash from the eruption.
President Obama signed a law in January requiring the American Battle Monuments Commission to assume the upkeep for the cemetery, but it has taken this long for the U.S. and Philippine governments to reach an agreement on how to proceed.
In August, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking the State Department to complete the agreement so the commission could start taking care of the cemetery.
“Clark Veterans Cemetery is sacred ground and we have a solemn duty as a nation to ensure that the brave Americans buried there have the dignified and well maintained final resting place that they deserve,” Ayotte wrote.
As a registered Clark AB Cemetery Gravedigger (supporter), through the Angeles City VFW Post, I am happy to hear the Commission will be taking over maintenance and care of this hallowed ground. Long overdue!