Cluttered cemetery gets military makeover

by: Erica Bennett Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - For some, the final resting place isn't always peaceful. Take Mount Olive Cemetery: for years, the cemetery has been unkempt.

"We came out here about three weeks ago and it was very unattractive. The tombs were falling over, tombs were out of the ground. Weeds were everywhere. It's kind of disrespectful," MM1 Bryan Pentlin said.

That's why Naval Station Mayport's 1st Class Petty Officer Association decided to get involved. Officers say there's at least 50 veterans at Mount Olive, ranging from World War I to Vietnam. Crews spent the day trimming, sweeping, pulling and of course, laying out little flags. A worker from the city also came and cut the grass.

"They deserve just the same military honors as we do, or anyone else who passes away deserves," Pentlin said.

Action News first told you about Mount Olive's disrepair a year ago. Our crews saw toppled tombs, cracked vaults and in some cases, open crypts. In fact, there didn't appear to be any real tracking system.

In response, the City of Jacksonville repaired the entrance gate and fixed some of the graves. Action News anchor Dawn Lopez even located her grandmother's plot using a GPS mapping system. 

Randall Rodgers said he's been watching burials at Mount Olive Cemetery for 60 years.

"When I was a little boy, every day is six or seven funerals a day and it was morning but Vietnam vets they were bringing out there," he said. 

There's still a lot of work to be done, but it starts now with this makeover. 

Crews from Naval Station Mayport plan on coming out Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July and every three months for as long as it takes to keep the cemetery clean. 

The City of Jacksonville does have a cemetery care trust fund, which is separate from tax dollars. Of the approximate $136,000 in it, $14,500 will go to Mount Olive.