Riverside National Cemetery

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Riverside National Cemetery
Riverside National Cemetery Entrance 20091023.jpg
Riverside National Cemetery Entrance
Established 1976
Location Riverside, California
Country United States
Coordinates 33°52′39″N 117°16′26″W / 33.87750°N 117.27389°W / 33.87750; -117.27389Coordinates: 33°52′39″N 117°16′26″W / 33.87750°N 117.27389°W / 33.87750; -117.27389[1]
Type Public
Owned by Department of Veterans Affairs
Size 921 acres (373 ha)
Number of graves 228,000
(As of 2014)
Website Official Site
Find a Grave Riverside National Cemetery
Veterans Department Grave Locator
The Political Graveyard Political Graveyard

Riverside National Cemetery (RNC) is a cemetery located in Riverside, California, dedicated to the interment of United States military personnel. The cemetery covers 921 acres (373 ha), making it the third-largest cemetery managed by the National Cemetery Administration. Since 2000 it has been the most active cemetery in the system, based on the number of interments.


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.

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]

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

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 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, (World War II) U.S. Army, Company F, 127th Infantry, 32nd Infantry Division. Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands, March 20, 1945 – Section 5, Site 1178.
  • Commander (then Pharmacist's Mate First Class) John H. Balch, (World War I), U.S. Navy, 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines. Vierzy & Somme-Py, France, July 19, 1918, and October 5, 1918 – Section 2, Site 1925.
  • Colonel (then Platoon Sergeant) Mitchell Paige, (World War II and Korea) U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division, Solomon Islands, October 26, 1942 – Section 20A, Site 533.
  • Colonel Lewis Millett, (WW II, Korea, Vietnam) U.S. Army, February 7, 1951 – Section 2, Site 1910.
  • 2d Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant) Walter D. Ehlers, (World War II) U.S. Army, June 9, 1944 – June 10, 1944 – Section 20A, Site 644.

Distinguished Service Cross recipients[edit]

  • Adelbert Waldron (1933–1995). U.S. Army sniper who served in the Vietnam War and was credited with the highest number of confirmed kills in U.S. history with 109. A two-time recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for separate actions in 1969 – Section AB, Row B, Site 37.

General officers[edit]

  • John Groff (1890–1990). United States Marine Corps Brigadier General and centenarian; recipient of the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross – Section 8, Site 1261.
  • Chesley G. Peterson (1920–1990). United States Air Force Major General – Section 20B, Site 44.

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) – Section 6, Site 270.
  • 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Hawkins, USAAF (1918–2003) – Section 57A, Site 2204.
  • Major Charles F. Jamerson, USAF (1917–1996) – Section 56A, Site 668.
  • Master Sergeant Charles William Ledbetter, USAF (1922–2003) served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam Wars – Section 26, Site 1426.
  • 1st Lt. Perry Willis Lindsey, USAF (1922–2004) served during World War II and Korean War – Section 63A, Site 768.
  • Chief Warrant Officer John Allen Pulliams Jr., USAF (1919–2002) served during World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars – Section 47, Site 1603.
  • Captain Hackley E. Woodford, M.D., US Army (1914–2005) served during World War II – Section 49A, Site 1149.


  • John Agar (1921–2002). Actor, once married to Shirley Temple. He starred mostly in Westerns and war movies, including Fort Apache, Sands of Iwo Jima, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – Section 55A, Site 18.
  • Arthur E. Arling (1906–1991). Hollywood cameraman and cinematographer – Section 38B, Site 404.
  • Loyd Arms (1919–1999). NFL left guard – Section 50, Site 5435.
  • Robert Edward Badham (1929–2005). Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy. U.S. Congressman from California. Served in California assembly, 1963–1976; U.S. House of Representatives 1977–1989 – Section 16, Site 914A.
  • George Baker (1915–1975). Tech Sgt., U.S. Army, World War II. Baker was a Disney cartoonist who created the comic strip and comic book character "Sad Sack” – Section 8, Site 3254.
  • Aaron Bank (1902–2004). Colonel, U.S. Army. Founder of the Army Green Berets. During World War II, Bank was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services. In 2002, President George W. Bush commended Bank for creating the techniques used to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan – Section 17, Site 421.
  • Donald Bevan (1920–2013). Playwright – Section 53A, Site 3667.
  • Thomas Ross Bond Sr. (1926–2005). Actor and TV producer/director. Best known as “Butch” in “Our Gang” or “Little Rascals” movie shorts during the 1930s. U.S. Navy, WW II – Section 49B, Site 3840.
  • Stephen E. Burgio (1912–2001). Supreme Court of New York judge and Nuremberg Trials assistant prosecutor – Section 55, Site 3359.
  • Bill Burrud (1925–1990). Child star and travel program host – Section 28, Site 1608.
  • Peggy Cartwright (1912–2001). Actress, buried with her United States Army veteran and fellow actor William "Bill" Walker – Section 32, Site 631.
  • Stanley Clements (1926–1981). Actor and comedian – Section 4, Site 512.
  • Chris Condon (1923–2010). Cinematographer – Section 51, Site 1055.
  • Marguerite Courtot (1897–1986). Actress, buried with her husband, US Army veteran Raymond McKee – Section 12A, Site 1766.
  • Edwin A. Doss (1914–2006). World War II and Korean War fighter pilot – Section 46, Site 1976.
  • Gordon Hahn (1919–2001). California politician – Section 55, Site 5241.
  • Jesse James "Mountain" Hubbard (1895–1982). Negro leagues baseball player – Section 4, Site 1943.
  • Will "Dub" Jones (1928–2000). Bass vocalist. In 1957, Jones joined the musical group The Coasters. The group's recordings during Jones’ tenure include “Yakety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, and “Poison Ivy”. Jones sang the lines 'Don't talk back' in “Yakety Yak” and 'Why's everybody always picking on me?' in "Charlie Brown" – Section 50, Site 4458.
  • Robert Karvelas (1921–1991). Actor – Section 42, Site 1258.
  • Lillian Kinkella Keil (1916–2005). Captain, U.S. Air Force. Air Force Flight Nurse pioneer. She flew on 425 combat missions and took part in 11 major campaigns that included the D-Day invasion and Battle of the Bulge in World War II and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korea War – Section 20A, Site 1235.
  • Dick Knight (1929–1991). Professional golfer – Section 43, Site 574.
  • Frank John Lubin (1910–1999). Olympic Athlete. He was the captain of the gold medal winning 1936 Summer Olympics basketball team. He later introduced the sport to the country of Lithuania, where he is considered the father of Lithuanian basketball – Section 50, Site 5241.
  • Tyler MacDuff (1925–2007). U.S. Navy, Pacific Theater, including Philippine Islands. Star of film and television westerns and dramas[4] – Section 62D, Site 90.
  • Raymond McKee (1892–1983). Actor, buried with his wife, actress Marguerite Courtot – Section 12A, Site 1766.
  • Patsy Montana (1908–1996). American country music singer – Section AC, Row F, Site 29.
  • Joe Morris, Sr. (1926–2011). World War II United States Marine Corps veteran and Navajo code talker – Section 52A, Site 2818.
  • Sydney Omarr (1926–2003). Astrologer – Section 57A, Site 1904.
  • Earl Palmer (1924–2008). Rock & roll and rhythm & blues drummer – Section 61, Site 2256.
  • Jim Pash (1948–2005). Musician and recording artist – Section 49B, Site 4891.
  • Thelma Pressman (1921–2010). Food writer – Section 49A, Site 1080.
  • Herbert Ezra Randall (1899-1991). American Naval Officer. Believed to be the inspiration for the character of Capt. Morton in the novel, play and movie "Mister Roberts." In the movie version, the character is portrayed by James Cagney. Section 28, Site 2693.
  • Jeff Richards (1924–1989). Minor league baseball player and actor – Section 41, Site 1775.
  • Les Richter (1930–2010). American football player – Section 62C, Site 345.
  • Ross Russell (1909–2000). Jazz producer and author, founder of Dial Records – Section 56C, Site 399.
  • Bert Shepard (1920–2008). World War II Army Air Forces pilot who was shot down, suffered an amputated leg, and then pitched and coached with the Washington Senators – Section BC, Row D, Site 377.
  • Curtis Howe Springer (1896–1985). Radio evangelist and self-proclaimed medicine man – Section 14, Site 497.
  • Woodrow "Woody" Strode (1914–1994). Strode had the title role in the 1960 John Ford movie Sergeant Rutledge. Other films he starred in included Spartacus and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Strode was one of the first black players in professional football when he joined the Cleveland Rams in 1946 – Section 46, Site 283.
  • Paul Toth (1935–1999). Major League Baseball pitcher – Section 41, Site 954.
  • Ed Townsend (1929–2003). Songwriter – Section BA, Row C, Site 213.
  • Lorenzo Tucker (1907–1986). Stage and screen actor, known as the "Black Valentino" – Section 19, Site 2661.
  • Aurel Toma (1911–1980). Romanian boxing champion – Section 2, Site 1433.
  • William "Bill" Walker (1896–1992). Film and television actor. Buried with his wife, actress Peggy Cartwright – Section 32, Site 631.
  • Jerry Wallace (1927–2008). American country and pop singer – Section 61, Site 13.
  • Michael Waltman (1946–2011). Film and television actor. Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient[5] – Section 52A, Site 758.
  • Noble Willingham, (1931–2004). Actor. He starred as C.D. Parker in the TV show Walker Texas Ranger. Also appeared in many Hollywood movies including Chinatown. Good Morning, Vietnam, and City Slickers – Section BA, Row C, Site 124.
  • Michael Winkelman (1946–1999). Actor. He starred as Little Luke McCoy on ABC's situation comedy, The Real McCoys. U.S. Navy, Vietnam – Section 50, Site 4304.[6]
  • Ellsworth Wisecarver (1929–2005). Notorious as the "Woo Woo Kid" for having affairs with older women – Section BB, Row B, Site 80.
  • Skip Young (1930–1993). Actor. He starred as Wally Plumstead on the ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. U.S. Navy, Korea – Section 13A, Site 332.
  • Benny Zientara (1918–1985). Major League Baseball infielder – Section 20A, Site 2009.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]