Riverside National Cemetery

Coordinates: 33°53′05″N 117°16′34″W / 33.88472°N 117.27611°W / 33.88472; -117.27611
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Riverside National Cemetery
Riverside National Cemetery Entrance
Riverside National Cemetery Entrance
CountryUnited States
Coordinates33°53′05″N 117°16′34″W / 33.88472°N 117.27611°W / 33.88472; -117.27611[1]
Owned byDepartment of Veterans Affairs
Size921 acres (373 ha)
No. of graves301,000
(As of July 2022)
WebsiteOfficial Site
Veterans Department Grave Locator
Find a GraveRiverside National Cemetery
The Political GraveyardRiverside National Cemetery

Riverside National Cemetery (RNC) is a cemetery located in Riverside, California, dedicated to the interment of United States military personnel. The cemetery covers 1,250 acres (510 ha), making it the largest cemetery managed by the National Cemetery Administration. It has been the most active cemetery in the system since 2000, based on the number of interments.


Riverside National Cemetery View

RNC was established in 1976 through the transfer of 740 acres (300 ha) from March Air Force Base, a section that during World War II was called Camp Haan.[2] The site was selected in 1976 to provide full burial options for Southern California veterans and their families by President Ford’s Commission for National Cemeteries and Monuments. An additional 181 acres (73 ha) was transferred by the U.S. Air Force in 2003.

Riverside National Cemetery Graves

With 15 Medal of Honor recipients in attendance and the Marine Corps’ greatest fighter ace Joe Foss as featured speaker, RNC was dedicated and opened for burials Veterans Day, November 11, 1978. RNC's first burial was Army Staff Sgt. Ysmael Villegas, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery at the cost of his own life at Villa Verde Trail on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, March 20, 1945. Following the war he was buried at Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside.[3] Prior to the opening of RNC, the Veterans Administration asked the Villegas family if he could be honored by re-burial in the new National Cemetery.

The dramatic, meandering landscape features a central boulevard with memorial circles, lakes, indigenous-styled committal shelters, and a memorial amphitheater.

Military funeral honors are provided for eligible veterans by military honor guards from each branch of service, by the California National Guard, and by several volunteer teams collectively known as the Memorial Honor Detail or MHD upon request of family members through their funeral home.

Monuments and Memorials[edit]

Riverside National Cemetery Medal of Honor Memorial
Riverside National Cemetery POW MIA Memorial
Riverside National Cemetery Medal of Honor Memorial
The Veterans Memorial at the Riverside National Cemetery

Riverside National Cemetery is home of the Medal of Honor Memorial, one of four sites in the United States recognized by the U.S. Congress as a National Medal of Honor Memorial Site. The Medal of Honor Memorial, whose walls feature the names of all medal recipients, is located at the third traffic circle in the cemetery. It was dedicated at a ceremony attended by 85 Medal of Honor recipients November 5, 1999.

The statue "Veterans Memorial", created by Colorado sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg, in commemoration of the veterans, their comrades, their personal and emotional sacrifices and to acknowledge those Americans who have lost loved ones in the service of their country. The statue consists of a 12-foot pedestal, on top of which lies the lifeless body of a soldier partially covered with a poncho that hides the face. The unidentified soldier whether a man or woman, private or officer, will forever remain in silent tribute to every American who has given his or her life in combat. The statue was donated to the Riverside National Cemetery by Thomas F. and Judy Kane and was dedicated May 28, 2000.

The Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial was designated a National Memorial by the U.S. Congress on December 10, 2004[4] and dedicated September 16, 2005. A bronze statue, sculpted by Vietnam veteran Lewis Lee Millett Jr. is the image of an American serviceman on his knees and bound by his captors. The statue is surrounded by black marble pillars, representing imprisonment.

Notable interments[edit]

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

  • Staff Sergeant Ysmael R. Villegas (1921–1945), (World War II) U.S. Army, Company F, 127th Infantry, 32nd Infantry Division. Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, March 20, 1945
  • Commander (then Pharmacist's Mate First Class) John H. Balch (1896–1980), (World War I), U.S. Navy, 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines. Vierzy & Somme-Py, France, July 19, 1918 and October 5, 1918
  • Colonel (then Platoon Sergeant) Mitchell Paige (1918–2003), (World War II and Korea) U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division, Solomon Islands, October 26, 1942
  • Colonel Lewis Millett (1920–2009), (WW II, Korea, Vietnam) U.S. Army, February 7, 1951
  • 2d Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant) Walter D. Ehlers (1921–2014), (World War II) U.S. Army, June 9–10, 1944

Distinguished Service Cross recipient[edit]

General officers[edit]

Tuskegee Airmen[edit]

Plaque honoring the Order of Daedalians at the Riverside National Cemetery, with March Joint Air Reserve Base in background

Several members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, America's first aviators of African descent, who trained at Alabama's Tuskegee University and flew for the United States Army Air Force, are buried at Riverside National Cemetery.[citation needed]

  • 1st Lt. John L. Hamilton, USAAF (1919–1982)
  • 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Hawkins, USAAF (1918–2003)
  • Major Charles F. Jamerson, USAF (1917–1996)
  • 1st Lt. Perry Willis Lindsey, USAF (1922–2004) served during World War II and Korean War
  • Chief Warrant Officer John Allen Pulliams Jr., USAF (1919–2002) served during World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars
  • Captain Hackley E. Woodford, M.D., US Army (1914–2005) served during World War II


Riverside National Cemetery Flag
Riverside National Cemetery Riverbed

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Riverside National Cemetery
  2. ^ See: U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Camp Haan (historical). Named after General William George Haan, Camp Haan was used as a WWII training base for coast artillery and anti-aircraft and also housed a prisoner-of-war camp. See: Riverside Public Library: Sharon Anthony Camp Haan Papers
  3. ^ "Riverside National Cemetery: "Veterans Day Marks Cemetery's 35th Anniversary". October 25, 2013" (PDF). Veteranservices.co.riverside.ca.us. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Public Law 108–454". US House of Representatives.
  5. ^ National Cemetery Administration
  6. ^ "Ex-Marine Lena Basilone dies". Long Beach Press-Telegram. June 16, 1999.
  7. ^ "Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator". April 17, 2019.
  8. ^ "Michael Waltman, Active Actor, Vietnam Veteran". Palisadian-Post. 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2011-05-14.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]