Cemetery snafu angers visitors

May 26, 2009 9:31:29 PM PDT
This past Memorial Day was a frustrating one for some Houstonians. They went to the Houston National Cemetery to remember their family members' graves, but things didn't go as planned when they had problems locating them. At the Houston National Cemetery, one family wanted to honor two veterans killed in a helicopter crash on the Texas A&M campus last January.

"The first one was my nephew, 2nd Lt. Zachy Cook and the second fatality was Sgt. Charles Mitts and we are looking Sgt. Mitts grave today," said Don Roper who was unable to locate the grave.

But with more than 68,000 people buried on several acres, if you don't know exactly where you're headed, you are going to need some assistance. Staff is there to help until 5pm, but for those arriving later, the grave site locator kiosk is the only way to find a veterans resting place. And on the busiest day of the year for the cemetery, one sign was the only information available.

"There where several other people up at the window that where in total awe, just as I was when they drove up and saw the paper sign there saying it was out of order," Roper said. "There was no staff or administration there to help direct people otherwise."

Many coming to pay respects had to abandon their plans at the hands of a blank grave site locator.

The Houston National Cemetery Administration tells us the problem was not local and that other cemetery locations also experienced problems. As the computer system went down Sunday, they called in the entire staff to help with directions until 5pm.

"This was unexpected," said George Lopez with the Houston National Cemetery. "This is computer life. We had a hard drive that crashed in Washington, which is a central location and it affected the entire nation."

For many families, the prayers at the grave will have to wait for another day.

"There where lots of people out here today, paying tribute to different people," Roper said. "We just didn't get to complete ours today, but we will complete it."

We contacted the veterans affairs headquarters and they tell us, "Department of Veterans affairs deeply regrets this hardware failure occurred and apologizes for any inconvenience."

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