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West Point Cemetery - Book Cover

On the wind-swept plains high above the Hudson River, the cemetery at West Point has a long history. It served as a burial ground for early residents of the area and then Revolutionary War soldiers before 1817--the year it became an official military cemetery. Until that year, small burial plots scattered about the grounds served as places of interment. Over years of excavations and construction, those graves were moved to their present sites. In 1840, an improved road to the area was built, and a care takers cottage, still in use, was added in 1872.


The original grounds encompass eleven acres and feature a wide variety of trees: willows, Russian elms, and the rare Ginkgo tree among them. Over 12,500 individuals are buried here. By 2005  the site was nearing capacity. However, an outdoor columbarium for inurnments was completed in November 2014. Its twenty seven sections provide 5,832 burial niches. This supplemented the existing columbarium in the basement of the Old Cadet Chapel which has over 1,200 niches still available.

In 2017 plans were approved to expand the cemetery beyond the property's northeast boundary by removing the adjacent buildings and parking lot .   This involved extensive demolition and infrastructure improvement to stabilize the expansion grounds.

Be Thou at Peace
The Cemetery at West Point

The Old Cadet Chapel

The Old Cadet Chapel

Walking the Cemetery Grounds

West Point Cemetery - Walking the Grounds
Grave Placement at West Point

Graves of those who perished in a given conflict are generally found in groups.  There are exceptions.

Expansion area of the cemetery since 2019.

Graves can be found from each of America’s wars, and include those killed by arrows, musket balls, Viet Cong ambush, space capsule fire, improvised explosive devices, accidents, and natural deaths. Counted among the dead are eighteen Medal of Honor recipients, and more than twenty former superintendents of the Academy.


There is no designated walking tour of the grounds, nor is there a special criteria for the placement of graves; cadets are buried beside generals. Wherever one walks, well-known names from the nation’s past leap out. These individuals, many of them rivals in life, lie united in final rest awaiting the ultimate trumpet call to sound. Their graves, so peaceful in the tree-lined groves high above the Hudson River, contrast with the tragic and sometimes violent deaths of many here. It is fitting that these leaders with glory-filled laurels to their names have found tranquility at the institution that was so vital to their lives, and to the nation they gallantly served.


To do honor to all buried here would take an encyclopedic work, as many have had volumes written on their careers. This book highlights the careers of some of the most famous, but then pauses to consider--as one will do when wandering the grounds--those whose lives and passing would be unheralded.

Too Many Brave Souls

The Military Academy cemetery rewards the wandering ironist


Walk through the graveyard; cemeteries reward the ironist.    The collision between what once was and what is no more, the ineffability of a last impression, the follow-up question that can never be answered— it’s all right there.  In the cemetery at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Veterans Day will pass without formal observation: if the weather holds, the 6,827 men, women and children interred there will spend the day under a cerulean sky and pompon trees, and the living around them will give them the merest thought. Cemeteries reward the ironist.


Start in a bit from the entrance. There is a stone marking the plot of a Colonel Buchwald.  It is large but not enormous, and Buchwald probably served his country well. The site would blend unnoticed if his neighbor to the left, lying under a small government-issue marker, wasn’t Norman Cota, the general who on D-day rallied the scattered American invasion force on Omaha Beach and pushed it past the German defenses; Robert Mitchum played him in The Longest Day.

A hundred yards away, under a similarly modest headstone, rests Alonzo H. Cushing, who commanded the federal battery at Gettysburg that stood at the very point Pickett aimed his charge.  Cushing, twice wounded, stayed at his guns, firing double canister at the converging Confederates until a third shot got him.  Right behind him is buried Judson Kilpatrick, a general considered so profligate with the lives of his men that they called him “Kill Cavalry.”  At the end of the row, under an obelisk, lies George Armstrong Custer.  Or what may be Custer.  When Custer was disinterred a year after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, diggers found that animals had scattered the bones.  They took their best guess. Cemeteries reward the ironist.


West Point Cemetery - Graves of Buchwald & Cota
Donald Buchwald grave at West Point
Norman Cota - Hero of D-Day-Omaha Beach

There are heroes here: Paul Bunker the only Army player to make Walter Camp’s All-America team at two different positions, who died in a Japanese POW camp after smuggling his unit’s flag past his captors; Ed White, who walked in space and died in Apollo I; Joe Stilwell of China; Lucius Clay of the Berlin airlift; George Goethals of the Panama Canal.  The biggest monument, however, a large pyramid, belongs to a general named Egbert Viele.  An eminent engineer, he helped design the cemetery, which perhaps explains his prominence.  The entrance to the pyramid is guarded by a pair of sphinxes.  These are not the original sphinxes, which Mrs. Viele found too buxom, and which were then sunk in the Hudson River.  Cemeteries reward the ironist.

Veale and Butterfields monuments at West Point
Robert Fuellhart grave at West Point
Robert Fuellhart grave at West Point
Cushing  & Kilpatrick Graves at West Point
Alonzo Cushing grave at West Point

Walk around.  Walter Schulze was assigned to fly the news that the Great War was over to units east of the Rhine; on the way home, his plane crashed and he was killed.  Art Bonifas, near the end of his tour, took a group out one day in 1976 to prune a poplar in the DMZ; the North Koreans set upon them and killed him.  In Vietnam, Ron Zinn, twice an Olympic race walker, went out on patrol ahead of his unit and stepped on a mine.  Bob Fuellhart was advising a Vietnamese battalion; while word was being sent up from the rear that his daughter had just been born, word was being sent back that he had been killed. Cemeteries reward the ironist. 

Walk along the western edge, and you find the dead of World War II, many of whom perished young.  Charles Finley of the class of 1943, killed in Normandy in 1944.  Henry Benitez of the class of ‘42, killed at Falaise in ‘44. Turner Chambliss Jr., ‘43, killed June 6, 1944.  And so on, until you turn a corner and start finding George Tow and Samuel Coursen of the class of ‘49, killed in action in Korea, 1950.  Over behind the Viele monument are the graves from Vietnam. There is a row in which 10 of 11 graves are occupied by members of the class of ‘66, and that does not begin to encompass that class’s contribution.

When that run ends, you have five in a row from the class of ‘64.  One belongs to John Hottell III -- a Rhodes Scholar, twice a recipient of the Silver Star-- who was killed in 1970. The year before, he had written his own obituary and sent it in a sealed envelope to his wife. “I deny that I died for anything -- not my country, not my Army, not my fellow man,” he wrote. “I lived for these things, and the manner in which I chose to do it involved the very real chance that I would die ... my love for West Point and the Army was great enough ... for me to accept this possibility as part of a price which must be paid for things of great value.”  Walk through the graveyard; cemeteries humble the ironist.


By Jamie Malanowski for Time Magazine on Veterans Day 1999 (reprinted with permission)

John Hottell grave at West Point
John Hottell grave at West Point

About the Book


The West Point Cemetery Overview

The Cadet Chapel

Early Graves

The Mexican-American War

The Civil War

The Indian Wars

The Spanish-American War

Philippines Insurrection.

Mexico Border Campaign

World War I

World War II

The Korean War


Iraq: Operations Desert Shield/Storm

Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom


Faculty, Staff & Authors

Army Sports &: Spirit

Other Eminent Graduates


Superintendents Buried at West Point

Family Burials                                          

Sample Page

Be Thou at Peace - Sample Page

Book Facts

Softcover,  192 pages, 


24 Chapters with historical annotations for all the conflicts.

Over 200 grave pictures from all conflicts with captions and photos of the deceased, many with brief bio

Index of those interred with their Chapter, Class Year, Cullum #, and grave location

Table of Contents -  Be  Thou at Peace
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