Beaufort National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
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 within the Beaufort city limits, 42 miles north of the Savannah (GA) International Airport. From Savannah, take U.S. Interstate 95 North, then State Hwy 278 East, exit on State Hwy 170 North to U.S Highway 21 South. Cemetery is approximately one mile on the left on U.S. Highway 21 South, which is also Boundary Street.
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.
Military Funeral Honors
A heavily populated military community surrounds the cemetery; therefore, families of veterans can obtain Military Funeral Honors with little difficulty. Military Funeral Honors are provided by Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, SC; Fort Stewart Army Base, Savannah, GA; Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC; Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC; and Beaufort Naval Hospital, Beaufort, SC.
Our cemetery floral regulations exist only to reflect the honor and respect we hold for our Nation's Veterans, 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 than the headstone. 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 every Tuesday in sections A, B, C, C1, C2, C3, D, M1 and Wednesday for all other sections for turf maintenance.
During the Holiday season, (Thanksgiving 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.
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.
Permanent floral vases are prohibited in any burial sections of the cemetery established after 1973. In burial sections established prior to 1973, one permanent vase per gravesite will be allowed.
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.
Beaufort National Cemetery is located in Beaufort County on Port Royal Island within the city limits of Beaufort, South Carolina. The cemetery best distinguished by a landscape plan in which the burial sections are arranged in the shape of a half-circle with roads arranged like the spokes of a wheel.
Although local Native Americans had inhabited the region for thousands of years, it was not until 1514 that Beaufort County became the site of the second landing of Europeans on the North American continent. After an extended period of settlement, in 1587 the Spanish withdrew from the region in the wake of attacks by the English in Florida. For approximately eight decades the land was left to its original inhabitants. Eventually, King Charles II granted the territory to a group of eight proprietors who named it “Carolina” after their benefactor. The first settlers included many Barbadians, and Carolina came to more closely resemble the plantation economy of the West Indies than the other mainland colonies. In 1711, a year after the territory was divided into South Carolina and North Carolina, the town of Beaufort was founded.
Prior to the Civil War, Beaufort was a center of culture and affluence in the American South. Immense fortunes were made through the cultivation of rice, indigo, and later, long-staple sea cotton. Wealthy plantation owners had summer homes in Beaufort where they could benefit from cool breezes coming off the Beaufort River. The town was also a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. In 1860, the first meeting to draft the Ordinance of Secession (by which South Carolina led the withdrawal of the southern states from the Union), was held in Beaufort. As a result, the city was an early target of Federal forces.
South Carolina formally seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. One month later, a Union fleet circled Port Royal Sound and within less than a year after secession Union forces occupied the city, and held it for the balance of the war. The Confederate Fort Walker was renamed Fort Welles, becoming the center of a large Harrison that at one point had as many as 50,000 occupants. Fort Welles served as the headquarters of the Department of the South and the refueling and supply depot for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. General William Tecumseh Sherman's march through the state at war's end left a trail of destruction that brushed Beaufort County. The war, while not physically decimating the area, claimed one-fifth of the white male population of the state and shattered its economy.
The original interments in the cemetery were men who died in the nearby Union hospitals during the occupation and were initially buried in several places—among them East Florida and Hilton Head. About 2,800 remains were removed from cemeteries in Millen and Lawton, Georgia, and reinterred in the national cemetery; 117 Confederate soldiers are also interred here.
In May 1987, souvenir hunters using metal detectors on Folly’s Island near Charleston discovered the remains of 19 Union soldiers. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology identified the remains as members of the 55th Regiment and the 1st North Carolina Infantry. Both units were composed of black troops who fought side by side with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The 1989 Memorial Day program at Beaufort National Cemetery featured the reinterment of the 19 Union soldiers missing in action since 1863. The Honor Guard for the service was composed of actors from the cast of the movie “Glory,” which was being filmed nearby.
Beaufort National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Monuments and Memorials
The 1870s Union Soldiers monument was erected in honor of 174 unknown Union dead buried at the cemetery; it is marble set on a brick base.
A large granite monument dedicated to “the Defenders of American Liberty Against the Great Rebellion” was erected during the 1880s.
Blue Star Memorial was installed in 1998. Sponsored by the Beaufort Garden Club in cooperation with the Garden Club of South Carolina, the marker is a tribute to American men and women who have served, are serving, or will served their county. Its symbolism is linked to World War II, when families of service members displayed in a home window a square flag decorated with a blue star to signify that a loved was in the armed forces.
The “Fighting Fourth” Marine Monument was erected and dedicated in 1995 by the Fourth Marine Division Assn, Carolina Chapter No. 26.
In 1997, a memorial in honor of Confederate soldiers interred at the cemetery was installed.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Ralph H. Johnson was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 11, 1949. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in Oakland, California, in March 1967, and shortly thereafter, the regular USMC, to fight in the Vietnam War. On March 5, 1968, PFC Johnson and his patrol, overlooking the Quan Duc Valley, were attacked by enemy forces. Johnson threw himself on a grenade and warned his comrades; actions that prevented the enemy from advancing and saved the life of a fellow marine. PFC Johnson received the Medal of Honor posthumously. The Charleston VA Medical Center was renamed for him in September 1991, and the navy named a destroyer (USS Ralph Johnson DDG 114) after him in 2015. Johnson's remains were interred in Beaufort National Cemetery in March 1970 (Section 3, Grave 21).
John James McGinty III was born in Boston, in 1940, and he enlisted in the Marines after graduating from high school. In 1966, 2nd Lt. McGinty began a tour of duty in Vietnam. On July 18, attacked by the North Vietnamese and severely wounded in the left eye, he saved the lives of dozens of men. S.Sgt McGinty received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Later, as a born-again Christian, a faith that rejects idolatry, he chose to not display the medal because it features the image of Minerva. McGinty retired in 1976 with the rank of captain, and worked at the VA Medical Center in San Diego, California. He died January 17, 2014 (Section D, Grave 703).
Colonel Donald Conroy, "The Great Santini" is interred in Section 62, Grave 182.
Nineteen Union Soldiers of the all black Massachusetts 54th and 55th Infantry were removed from Folly Island, S.C., and reinterred here with full military honors on Memorial Day, May 29, 1989.
South Carolinian Joseph Simmons was born in 1899. He attended the Penn School on St. Helena Island, one of the country's first schools for freed slaves, and enlisted in the army on February 18, 1918. MSgt. Simmons fought with the French during World War I, attached to the 5th Marines in three campaigns, including Belleau Wood. During World War II, Simmons served with the 25th Infantry, Buffalo Soldiers. An interest in music led to his becoming assistant bandleader, 92nd Division, in 1944. Simmons served for 34 years in all. For his World War I service, he received the French Legion of Honor Medal just a few weeks before his 100th birthday. He died September 24, 1999 (Section 2, Grave 2).
Gerd Reussel, German World War II Prisoner of War, Section PB61, Grave 18.