To schedule a burial: 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.
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Fort Bliss is located in El Paso County, Texas, within the Fort Bliss Military Reservation. The fort was first established in the late 1840s at the end of the Mexican-American war, when the United States gained possession of former Mexican territories in the Southwest. Due to its strategic location on the banks of the Rio Grande, Fort Bliss was originally used as an infantry post. During the Civil War, the fort was used as a Confederate garrison until the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Conditions at the desert fort could be arduous. One legend has it that Gen. Phil Sheridan, a resident at the end of the Civil War, declared, "If I owned both Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell."
Although there are no definitive dates regarding the establishment of the first post cemetery, records indicate the first interment was made in 1883 and 16 burials had been made prior to 1890. In 1914, the status of Fort Bliss was changed from an infantry to a cavalry post. At that time, the area set aside as a post cemetery totaled 2.2 acres with a capacity of 800 graves, enclosed with a stone wall.
During World War I, Fort Bliss was used as a training center for cavalry detachments. It was first used as a gathering point for recruits at the beginning of the war and then as a demobilization camp after the Armistice. In the interwar years, 2.24 acres were added to the cemetery, increasing its capacity to 2,400 graves. Congress authorized the establishment of a national cemetery at Fort Bliss in June 1936, but funds were not appropriated for construction until 1939. Had the funds been available, construction would have been delayed anyway, as the Fort Bliss commanding general and the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington D.C., disagreed on the site. Finally, in March 1939, the quartermaster general approved a plan and the new Fort Bliss National Cemetery had its first interment a year later on March 7, 1940.
In addition to U.S. soldiers and civilians, there are a number of non-U.S. citizens interred at Fort Bliss. In fall 1944, Chinese authorities officially selected the post as the place of interment for Chinese air force cadets who died while training at the fort; 55 are buried at Fort Bliss. Others resting here include four German prisoners of war, three Japanese civilian internees who were disinterred from Lordsburg, N.M., and one German civilian scientist who had been conducting research at Fort Bliss during the war.
In 1955, the remains of Lt. Col. William Wallace Smith Bliss were moved from Girod Street Cemetery in New Orleans to Fort Bliss. Col. Bliss fought against the Cherokee, taught at West Point, served as chief of staff to Gen. Zachary Taylor in the Mexican-American War and married Taylor’s daughter. The city of New Orleans notified the Army that all monuments in the Girard Street Cemetery must be removed because the land had been condemned to make way for a new building and a highway.
Monuments and Memorials
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association erected a monument to Coast Guard and Navy personnel who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The memorial was dedicated Dec. 7, 1984.
The Military Order of the World Wars dedicated a granite monument in 1986 to officers in military service.
The American Prisoners of War Monument was installed at the cemetery in 1986 by the American Ex-Prisoners of War of El Paso, Chapter 1. The granite memorial is dedicated in the memory of prisoners of all wars.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart dedicated a granite-and-bronze memorial to all armed forces personnel on Oct. 22, 2002. A bronze plaque mounted on top of the memorial is inscribed with the words to Taps.
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Medal of Honor Recipients
Staff Sergeant Ambrosio Guillen, (Korean War), U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Near Songuch-on, Korea, July 25, 1953 (Section E, Grave 9171).
Corporal Benito Martinez, (Korean War), U.S. Army, Company A, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Near Satae-ri, Korea, Sept. 6, 1952
(Section B, Grave 366-A).
The cemetery also has two Medal of Honor recipients in the Memorial section of the cemetery.
Corporal Frank Brattling, (Indian Campaigns), Company C, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Near Fort Selden, N.M., July 8 – 11, 1873 (Section MA, Grave 24).
Private George Hooker, (Indian Campaigns), Company K, 5th U.S. Cavalry. At Tonto Creek, Ariz., Jan. 22, 1873 (Section MA, Grave 30).
Both the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and the Fort Bliss Military Reservation were named after William W. S. Bliss.
Lieutenant Colonel William Bliss was born in Whitehall, New York on Aug. 17, 1815. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in September 1829. He graduated July 1, 1833, at the age of 17, ranking 9th in a class of 43 graduates. He was considered a prodigy at the Academy where his classmates called him "Perfect Bliss." Later Zachary Taylor’s family gave him the same nickname.
He was a scholar and a master of six languages with a reading knowledge of 13 languages. His information ranged from philosophy to poetry to military tactics.
His first service after graduation was as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry in engagements against the Cherokee Indians (1833-1834). From 1834-1840 this talented and scholarly young man taught mathematics at the United States Military Academy. His service in the field against the Florida Indians in 1840 -1841, was followed by accompanying General Taylor to the Grand Council of Indian tribes in Oklahoma. He then served as Adjutant General of the 16th Military Department until 1845. In August 1845, he became Chief of Staff to General Zachary Taylor, serving with him throughout the military occupation of Texas and the Mexican War. He earned the rank of Brevet Major on May 9, 1846, for the gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. Further recognition, and the rank of Brevet Lt. Col., came on Feb. 23, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Buena Vista. From 1842 onwards, he was a key member of the staff of "Old Rough and Ready." It was said that with Bliss at his elbow, General Taylor could count on trustworthy information and honest and competent advice.
He married the youngest daughter of Zachary Taylor, Mary Elizabeth, in December 1848, following the election of Taylor to the Presidency. Mrs. Bliss took over the duties of official hostess for her mother.
On July 9, 1850, Colonel Bliss was assigned as Adjutant General of the Western Division of the Army in New Orleans. On Aug. 5, 1853, he died at Pascagoula, Miss., a victim of Yellow Fever. He was interred in the Protestant Cemetery on Girod Street.
On Nov. 22, 1955, Colonel Bliss was interred in the National Cemetery with full military honors. His burial plot is located along the entrance driveway of the cemetery and is marked with an upright white marble monument.
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Fresh cut flowers are welcomed and encouraged to be placed on graves all year round. Once the blooms are spent they will be removed. Flowers may also be removed to facilitate cemetery operations. Arrangements may not be more than 24" high.
Artificial flowers are also allowed, but due to ground maintenance requirements and cemetery operations, placement should not be considered permanent. All items will be picked up and disposed of on the first and third Tuesday of each month to facilitate grounds maintenance. Arrangements may not be more than 24" high.
All items left at the gravesite must be floral in nature. Permanent plantings of any kind are not permitted on graves. Potted plants are only allowed one week prior to and one week after Easter and Memorial Day.
Christmas wreaths, potted plants and floral grave blankets are permitted on graves from December 15 through January 15. Arrangements may not be more than 24" high. Cemetery trees, shrubs and/or any other plants may not be decorated with any ornaments of any kind at any time.
Commemorative items, balloons, pinwheels, glass items, votive or vigil lights, candles, statues, shepherd’s hooks and stuffed animals are not allowed. Any item that violates the intent of the floral regulations, compromises the dignity of the cemetery, or is a threat to safety will be removed.
No item or object may be attached to the headstone and no item may stand taller than the headstone. Headstones are Federal Property, altering or marking by paint, marker, lipstick or any other means is considered vandalism and may be subject to penalty as defined in Title 38 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 1.218 Security and law enforcement at VA facilities.
Permanent in-ground vases are no longer permitted. Glass vases are also not permitted on graves, only plastic and metal. Cemetery supplied vases are federal property and are not allowed to be removed from the cemetery.
Fort Bliss National Cemetery assumes no responsibility for items left on gravesites. Due to the open nature of the grounds, we cannot guarantee against theft, vandalism or the effects of nature.
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