Manila American Cemetery, March 2013. Sec. 'N' looking south-east
108,504 Americans were killed in the Asia Pacific Theater during World War II. These figures have been in dispute through the years. But they break down by branch of service as follows: US Army ground personnel: 41,592 US Army Air Forces: 15,694 US Navy & Coast Guard: 31,485 US Marine Corps: 19,733 About half of these men and women are memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. Not all were killed directly in the Philippines, but throughout the Asia Pacific campaigns. Almost all buried or memorialized here died as a result of the war between 1941-1945. One-half of one-third of all the Americans who died in World War II are buried or memorialized here. The cemetery was established in 1948 on 152 acres, and completed in 1960. There are 17,097 ground burials. 16,933 are Latin crosses and 164 Stars of David. 3,740 burials are marked as "Unknown." There are 20 sets of brothers, and 29 Medal of Honor recipients. 36,286 names appear on the Tablets of the Missing. The tablets are arranged by branch of service: Marines, Army & Army Air Forces, Navy, and Coast Guard. These panels contain the names of those who were never located, who were known to have gone down with their ship, or formally buried at sea, and the names of those who's remains were recovered but not identified. On a personal note. I recently had the privilege of visiting the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. When the taxi picked me up in front of my hotel, I noticed he had a nice sounding stereo. I told him he could turn up the volume. He was playing a CD by Dire Straits. The next tract that played was "Brothers In Arms." I thought...how fitting. That mournful song concluded as he dropped me off in front of the cemetery gates. With my camera in hand, and a long list of names to obtain, I began randomly browsing the grounds. At first I saw one...then three...then an entire row. White marble crosses marked with the inscription: Here Rests In Honored Glory A Comrade In Arms Known But To God. Three thousand, seven hundred of these crosses. Randomly placed among the rows of the known soldiers. I have visited many national cemeteries, but never have had an emotional impact as this place did. To walk the entire cemetery and to view all the names on the Tablets of the Missing is an experience that will humble anyone. It will hit you like a ton of bricks. These men died for their country so I can be free to travel to such a place. Fifty-plus thousand names. Like walking in the pages of a history book.