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Families to be notified Punchbowl markers moved

July 14, 2012
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Nearly 400 families were not notified when memorial markers at Hawaii's Punchbowl cemetery were moved six years ago, the Department of Veteran Affairs said.

A section of memorial markers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was moved in 2006 to make room for more placements but families were not notified, said Brad Phillips, who oversees national cemeteries in the West. The section doesn't contain graves and is reserved for veterans whose remains were never recovered, buried at sea, cremated or donated for research.

The Punchbowl cemetery's director plans to call the families informing them of the move and apologizing for failing to notify them in 2006, Phillips said.

Kari Cowan of Clearwater, Fla., discovered during a visit to the cemetery in December that another marker was in her husband's spot and found his marker on the opposite side of the section. While cemetery staff initially told her she was mistaken, Phillips later acknowledged mishandling the move and apologized to Cowan.

Because of the ordeal, Cowan didn't want the marker for her husband to remain at Punchbowl. Last month, the department moved Aaron Cowan's marker to a national cemetery in New Mexico where the Army chief warrant officer 3 grew up.

The matter caught the attention of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Again, our families of the fallen are enduring more suffering as a result of this latest error to come to light at Punchbowl," U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who heads the committee, said in a statement.

He said he's asked the department for an accounting of cemetery management and oversight.

 
 

 

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