Sailors clean up cemetery where vets are buried

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Local sailors are stepping up to take care of grave sites at the Mount Olive Cemetery on the Northside.

Many of the veterans buried there don't have family to keep their resting place clean and peaceful.

Naval Station Mayport's first class petty officers and the Funeral and Honors Detail spent Tuesday doing grounds work at the cemetery.

About 100 servicemen are buried there, but by looking around, it was hard to tell.

"Very, very shocking," said sailor Bryan Pentlin. "I didn't even know this was out here until about three or four weeks ago, came out here to see the grave site and the tombstones fallen over and not taken care of, it's very shocking actually."

Pentlin is one of the sailors who volunteered their time to clean up Mount Olive Cemetery. They raked, cleaned off the headstones and placed American flags by the grave sites.

Pentlin said the sailors were upset to see some of the graves in such poor condition.

"I would never want my grave site to be like this or my parents or anybody I know," he said.

A neighbor who has lived in the area for nearly a decade said it's about time something was done.

"I'm glad they are trying to clean up the community," Carolyn Thomas said. "If I didn't have to go to work I would be with a shovel myself trying to help clean up the graveyard, because it looks horrible."

The servicemen buried at the cemetery fought in both world wars and the Vietnam War. But it's not only servicemen buried there. People who weren't in the military are there as well.

"A lot of their grave sites aren't taken care of as they should be," Pentlin said. "A lot of tombstones have fallen over, and we think we should come out here and honor them just like we should have honored anybody else actually."

Navy volunteers plan to keep up the cemetery every few months and around the holidays, like Tuesday, just in time for Independence Day.

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