National Cemetery Administration
Puerto Rico National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Open Memorial Day and Veterans Day from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This cemetery has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. For more information visit our eligibility web page.
The cemetery is located approximately 1.5 miles Northwest of Bayamon and about 13 miles from San Juan. From Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, take Baldorioty De Castro Avenue (West toward San Juan on state road 26), stay on the route to Bayamon (state freeway 22), and continue to Exit 13, Avenida Comerio, (state road 167). At the end of the ramp, turn left, continue under the bypass, at the third traffic light, make a right turn, continue to first traffic light, turn left and the cemetery will be on your left.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Welcome to Puerto Rico National Cemetery. We hope you find peace amid these quiet and beautiful grounds and visit us again.
Families often contact us during a difficult time - after the loss of a loved one.
We are here to make the burial process as comfortable as possible. We encourage veterans and their families to talk with us in advance for information or about any questions or concerns.
When the time comes, we will ensure the committal service and any other requests are handled respectfully. We pledge to honor the dignity and memory of each person and to provide excellent service to family and friends during this difficult time.
Puerto Rico National Cemetery became a national cemetery on July 12, 1948. The cemetery serves over 150,000 veterans in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, the Caribbean Region, and Central and South America. Situated on 108.2 acres of which 77.31 are being developed or have been developed, the cemetery accommodates casketed and cremated remains. Over 1,600 burials are conducted each year or about six per weekday. The cemetery has the only Memorial Program Service Marker Processing Center site located in a national cemetery and outside of the United States. This is the only national cemetery outside of the United States. In 1962, the remains of those interred on all other five military cemeteries on the island were transferred here.
Our cemetery floral regulations exist only to reflect the honor and respect we hold for our Nation's Veterans and their loved ones, by preserving the dignity and solemnity of their final resting place.
We welcome and encourage fresh-cut flowers throughout the year and provide flower containers for gravesite display. Items left at the grave must be floral in nature and may not stand taller 18 inches. Other items, to include hazardous materials, glass, metal, toys, candles, balloons and flags are not permitted. Unauthorized items will be removed. Flowers will be removed when they become unsightly, for mowing and maintenance, or if damaged by weather or wildlife. Due to the open nature of the grounds, we cannot guarantee against theft, vandalism or the effects of nature.
All flowers will be removed:
- Monday in sections A, AC, B, C, D, DD, E, F, J, K
- Tuesday in sections GG, H, M, NC, QC, OC, MA, MB RC, SC, S, TC
- Wednesday in sections G, I, L, N, O, P,PC, Q, R, T, U, V
- Friday pickup Columbarium
During the Holiday season, (December 15 through January 10) potted plants, artificial flowers, wreaths (less than 18 inches in diameter) and grave blankets (less than 2 X 3 feet) are permitted. During Easter and Memorial Day articles may be placed on gravesites up to one week before the holiday. The cemetery staff will remove items 10 days after the holiday. For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we will remove the items the next week.
Permanent plantings, statues, balloons, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments which are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Unauthorized items which have been removed from gravesites will be kept in a holding area for two weeks. Please check with cemetery office for location of holding area.
The cemetery is not responsible for the loss or deterioration of potted plants, vases or flowers. Installing of permanent floral vases are not permitted.
In order to preserve the dignity and honor of our Veterans’ final resting place, please observe the following rules of behavior while visiting the cemetery grounds:
- Altering a headstone in any manner is prohibited. (i.e., marking, sitting on, placing objects upon, attaching photographs or keepsakes to, etc.)
- Pets are not allowed on the cemetery grounds at any time.
- No soliciting.
- Sports or recreational activities of any kind are prohibited.
- No picnicking.
- Public gatherings of a partisan nature are prohibited, no unauthorized gatherings are permitted. Committal shelters are for services only, no loitering.
- Littering is not allowed, please use one of the many receptacles provided.
- Smoking is not allowed on the grounds, in any building or the committal shelter. Please smoke only at the designated receptacles.
- No cutting, digging or otherwise damaging the landscape.
- Boisterous activity, including the playing of loud music, is prohibited.
- These rules are covered by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (38--1.218) and are subject to fines.
We thank you in advance for providing the respect our Veterans are due by observing the above listed rules. Our Nation's Heroes, some of whom gave their lives for this country, deserve no less than an honorable and pristine landscape to make their final rest.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
The Puerto Rico National Cemetery is located on the north side of the island in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and is approximately 13 miles from San Juan, the capital. The cemetery serves as an American presence on the island and many distinguished Puerto Ricans who served in the U.S. military are interred there.
Prior to becoming a national cemetery, the land where the cemetery is now located was owned by the U.S. Navy and it was used as a machine gun range. After World War II, the land was transferred to the Department of the Army specifically for the construction of a new national cemetery. Negotiations for construction of the cemetery began after the land was transferred on July 12, 1948 and the private firm of Font & Montilla was contracted to build the cemetery.
The 108.2-acre cemetery was dedicated on Veteran’s Day in 1949 and it is the only national cemetery located in Puerto Rico. According to El Diario, the local newspaper, the dedication was attended by both local and military officials such as Luis Munoz-Marin, the Governor of Puerto Rico, and Major General Herman Feldman, the Quartermaster of the U.S. Army. In his remarks during the dedication, Feldman noted that, "practically every family in Puerto Rico had a representative in uniform during World War II." Since its dedication, Puerto Rico National Cemetery has been a shrine to Puerto Ricans who served in the armed forces.
The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 26, 1983.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Fernando Luis Garcia-Ledesma, native of Puerto Rico, joined the U.S. Marine Corps on September 19, 1951. He served in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division during the Korean War. On September 5, 1952, less than a year in service, a wounded Garcia-Ledesma was under heavy attack from enemy forces while attempting to secure weapons. With disregard for personal safety he unhesitatingly threw himself on a grenade, a sacrifice that saved a comrade. PFC Garcia-Ledesma received the Medal of Honor posthumously on October 25, 1953. He is honored with a memorial marker (Section MB, Site 3).
Juan Enrique Negron-Martinez, native of Puerto Rico, enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1948 and served in Company L, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. The 65th Infantry is known as the Borinqueneers, after the soldiers’ Puerto Rican heritage. On April 28, 1951, Sgt. Maj. Negron-Martinez took the most vulnerable position while fighting the enemy in Kalma-Eri, Korea. When his company began to withdraw, he refused to abandon his post. He continued his assault while the company organized and launched a counterattack. Negron-Martinez received numerous medals for his Korean War service and stayed in the army until March 1971. Negron-Martinez was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, posthumously. He died March 29, 1996 (Section J, Site 3180).
Captain Euripides Rubio, (Vietnam) Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam, Nov. 11, 1966 (Section HSA, Grave 5).
Steward John Ernest Sayle -- RTP/R238414, H.M.R.T. British Navy, Mediator, Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy) United Kingdom Commonwealth War Dead. Disinterred from Ft. Brooke Military Cemetery and Re-interred in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery on Jan. 26, 1960 in Section C Grave 597.
SP5 Diana Beatriz Padro, U.S. Army. SP5 Padro was a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 Terrorists Attack. SP5 Padro was working at the Pentagon as a Civilian when Terrorists launched an attack on the United States. Interred in Section E Grave 2247 on Dec 2, 2001.
Col. Bailey K. Ashford, Spanish American War. Disinterred from Ft. Brooke Military Cemetery and re-interred in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery on Apr. 20, 1954 in Section A Grave 1204.
As a recently commissioned lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Col. Ashford accompanied a military expedition to Puerto Rico in 1898. Serving as the medical officer in the general military hospital in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he was the first to describe and successfully treat North American hookworm in 1899. He was a tireless clinician and conducted an exhaustive study of the anemia caused by hookworm infestation, which was responsible for as many as 12,000 deaths a year. From 1903-1904, he organized and conducted a parasite treatment campaign, which cured approximately 300,000 persons (one-third of the Puerto Rico population) and reduced the death rate from this anemia by 90 percent.
Captain Ashford was a founding member of the Puerto Rico Anemia Commission and, by special authority of the Secretary of War, served on the Commission from 1904-1906. In 1911, his proposal for an Institute of Tropical Medicine in Puerto Rico was approved by the legislature. After serving as a commander of the Army Medical Department's First Division during the First World War, Colonel Ashford was assigned to San Juan and campaigned for the development of "a real school of tropical medicine in the American tropics". The School of Tropical Medicine in San Juan was formally dedicated in 1925. After a 30-year Army career, Dr. Ashford assumed a full time faculty position at the School and continued his interest in tropical medicine. His writings include: Anemia in Puerto Rico, 1904; and uncinariasis in Puerto Rico, 1911.
Captain Elwood Palmes Walmsley - United Kingdom Commonwealth War Dead, repatriated to the USA (Section B, Grave 142).
Modesto Cartagena is the most decorated Hispanic soldier to serve in the Korean War. Cartagena enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was assigned to the all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Borinqueneers (derivation of Borinquen, the island name used by original inhabitants, the Taino Indians). He fought in Europe during World War II, earning Bronze and Silver stars. During the Korean War, SGT FC Cartagena saved the lives of his unit by charging into enemy fire and “single-handedly" knocking out enemy emplacements before being wounded. This action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross. The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico awarded him its Military Medal of Honor for his notable career. The Borinqueneers were also honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 for bravery in battle, becoming the first Hispanic military unit to receive the award. Cartagena died in 2010. (Section P, Grave 1864).