Tuesday, February 9, 2016

American Cemetery Manila

Source: http://lost-at-sea-memorials.com/?p=1986
Recently, I've had several conversations where the American Cemetery in Manila has come up. I have only met former servicemen who have visited the cemetery as it is not a huge tourist site the way the Normandy American Cemetery or other ETO cemeteries are. (It is very expensive to get to the Philippines and that is one reason the American Cemetery in Manila is not as often visited as other more easily accessed cemeteries.)

It is in fact the largest American WWII Cemetery of troopers buried outside of the US in the world. There are 17,201 buried, and the large monument with the "tablets of the missing" have 36,285 names inscribed in marble, (on 152 acres) .

Source: http://www.inkedlens.com/2012/12/manila-american-cemetery-taguig.html

To put it in perspective, the Normandy cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach has 9,387 buried, and 1,557 on the wall of the missing (on 172.5 acres).

The American cemetery in Holland has 8,301 buried, and 1,722 as listed as MIA (on 65.5 acres).

Here you can see the pathway that leads through the tablets of the missing. 
A walkway like this runs through each half of the memorial; 
listing more than 36k names in all.
Source: http://lost-at-sea-memorials.com/?p=1986

I added up all the MIA inscribed names in the 12 WWII cemeteries in Europe and there are 17,647 missing in action names listed. This is less than half of the 36,285 names of the missing in action chiseled into the walls in Manila.

Of course there are many other American cemeteries of WWII dead in Europe which Collectively outnumber the war dead buried in Manila. I am only trying to show perspective to those who've visited the European cemeteries, and have not been able to visit the Manila cemetery.

Panorama of the tablets of the missing in action
SOURCE: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jovijovijovi/3378582590

Suffice to say; it's the largest concentration of WWII dead outside the US on a relatively small geographical plot comparatively.

I was so fortunate to visit this cemetery numerous times throughout my life growing up in the Philippines. It was always very peaceful when we were there, and sometimes we were one of a couple visitors, sometimes the only ones. We would purchase food and picnic at the cemetery, and spend a few hours each time; sitting in the shade of the many trees, laying in the grass, walking the thousands of graves and reading the inscriptions, and reading the tens of thousands of names inscribed among the tablets of the missing. I specifically remember from the time I was young until I was an adult laying in the grass among the tightly concentrated graves, just letting the weight of all that it represented sink in. I remember seeing the undersides of the crosses and Stars of David as from the ground the white marbled gravestones were as far as the eye could see in any direction. I also remember being there during heavy rainstorms and finding shelter in the tablets of the missing memorials.. the wind blew the rains in to make it slippery, but it was a heck of a shelter from the storm-- surrounded by the names of the missing in action. 
I really appreciate that my parents thought it so valuable to make the trip from where we lived in Antipolo to the cemetery to spend time there on so many different occasions.

I would lay on the inclines like this at an angle growing up. This shows the perspective and trees well.
Source: http://snapshots.casaveneracion.com/a-visit-to-the-manila-american-cemetery-and-memorial/

Most of my friends have not have the chance to visit this cemetery, so I found some of my favorite photos online (thanks Internet- sources on the photos) to show what it looks like. The graves are arranged in a circle pattern around the two halves of the pillars of the missing which come together to form another "circle" in the center of the cemetery. The aerial photo shows the layout best. 
It's beautiful, and easily one of my favorite places on Earth.

(Statistics of War dead taken from the American Battle Monuments Commission website: abmc.gov)

~~K.Mishler, WWII FILES, February 9, 2016


  1. My Cousin's name is on the Tablets of the Missing. A beautiful cemetery.

  2. Please email me name and I’ll see what I can find on his casualty file. wwiifiles@gmail.com