The Coast Guardsmen began the project in June in an effort to restore veterans’ graves to their original condition. Several sites were overgrown with weeds and moss, and their headstones and crosses were in need of repair.
Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Elliott started a Flags Across America chapter on Kodiak Island and in the midst of gathering data to identify veterans’ graves during the beautification project, she came across the shattered headstone of Sgt. George Raymond McDonald, a U.S. Army WWI veteran. McDonald was born in 1890 and died in 1978.
After Elliott spoke to Kodiak Parks and Recreation manager Ian Fulp, she discovered the grave was run over by vandals in 2009. The Department of Veterans Affairs replaces markers paid for by the federal government if they are badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized. Working through Veterans Affairs, Elliott was able to replace the headstone.
“I felt Mr. McDonald deserved to have his grave marker replaced and couldn’t let the matter go until it was fixed,” she said.
During the dedication ceremony, a Kodiak Coast Guard base chaplain said a prayer and Elliott placed flowers next to the headstone.
Contact Coast Guard public affairs officer Petty Officer 2nd Class Charly Hengen at Charly.A.Hengen@uscg.mil.