Author: Kevin M. Hymel, Historian
74 found

Remembering Clifton Pollard, JFK’s Grave Digger

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 11/22/2023

John Metzler Sr. apologized when he asked Clifton Pollard to work on a Sunday to dig the grave for President John F. Kennedy. But Pollard didn’t mind at all. “It’s an honor for me to be here,” he said. The president had been assassinated on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, and Pollard had been called at home Sunday morning to come to work that afternoon. He had dressed in his work overalls that morning in anticipation of the call.  

U.S. Army Special Forces Honor President John F. Kennedy

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 11/16/2023

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. David Waldo stood at attention before President John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. He removed his green beret, dropped to one knee and placed the beret at the base of the president’s flat, rectangular headstone. Then he stood up and slowly saluted the fallen commander-in-chief.  

Australian Prime Minister Meets U.S. Army Soldier from Australia

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 10/25/2023

On Oct. 23, 2023, Australian Prime Minster Anthony Albanese laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. He was delighted when U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Trevor J. Bredenkamp introduced him to an Army sergeant with a thick Australian accent: Sgt. Charlotte Carulli, who was born in Australia.

Black WWII Medic Awarded Medals Posthumously at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 10/16/2023















As Cpl. Waverly Woodson, a Black U.S. Army medic, attended to one wounded American soldier after the next on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, he cared only about their injuries, not the color of their skin. While exposed to enemy fire and ignoring the shrapnel in his lower back and thigh, he set and amputated limbs, extracted bullets and dispensed plasma. He even pulled three soldiers out of the English Channel’s rising tide.

WWII Marine Killed at Tarawa Interred at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 10/10/2023

When a representative from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) told Cheryl Cronin that her uncle, Marine Pvt. First Class Lawrence E. Garrison had been positively identified 80 years after his death in battle, she was overwhelmed. “I prayed really hard that this would happen in my lifetime,” she said. On Oct. 5, 2023, Cronin and a handful of family and friends laid Garrison to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marine Osprey Crew Chief Buried at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 10/5/2023

Alexia Collart’s eyes filled with tears as she accepted the flag that had been draped over her son Marine Cpl. Spencer R. Collart’s casket. Her daughter Gweneth, sitting beside her, openly wept. Bart Collart, Cpl. Collart’s father, held back tears. The family’s grief spread to the crowd of more than 100 family and friends, who either dabbed their eyes or let the tears roll down their cheeks.

Twenty-one-year-old Cpl. Spencer died on Aug. 27, 2023, when the V-22 Osprey aircraft in which he was flying as the crew chief crashed in Australia during a training exercise. A month later, on Sept. 25, he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

First Tomb Badge Awarded to Female Infantry Soldier

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 9/22/2023

Army Pfc. Jessica Kwiatkowski made history on Sept. 18, 2023, when she became the first woman infantry soldier to earn the Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge. Other women have earned the badge, but they have come from other career fields. Tomb Guards who earn the badge also earn the distinction of being referred to as Sentinels.

MIA Pilot Killed in World War II Bombing Mission Buried at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 9/15/2023

Lt. William Baily Montgomery gave his life to save others. As a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot in the Eighth Air Force during World War II, his bomber took flak over Saint-Cyr, France, near the German border, on June 22, 1944. Montgomery and his copilot struggled to get their shot-up bomber home. Once they reached the English coast, Montgomery ordered his crew to bail out. Seven crewmen successfully left the aircraft, leaving Montgomery, his copilot, and engineer. The bomber crashed into a farm in West Sussex, England, killing the three.

Remembrance of WWII British General Orde Wingate Held at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 9/14/2023

“We are rightly celebrating Maj. Gen. Orde Wingate’s contribution to Israel and his very strong support for the creation of a Jewish state,” said Dame Karen Pierce, the British Ambassador to the United States, to a small crowd gathered in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery, a few feet from the headstone bearing Wingate’s name. About 30 people, mostly British and Israeli officials along with American Jewish war veterans, came together to honor Wingate on Sept. 8, 2023.

Outpouring of Tribute to Tuskegee Airmen Nurse

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 8/30/2023

Friends and family of Lt. Irma Cameron Dryden, the last living Tuskegee Airmen nurse, came to Arlington National Cemetery to honor her life at her funeral service on Aug. 24, 2023.