Fort Richardson National Cemetery is located on the Fort Richardson Military Reservation in Anchorage, Alaska. During World War II, 39 acres of Fort Richardson were set aside for use as a temporary burial site where deceased soldiers—regardless of nationality—could be laid to rest. Under the international program for the return of war dead, most of the soldiers interred at Fort Richardson were returned to their families. There were, however, some soldiers who remained buried at Fort Richardson either because the next of kin could not be found or their families requested that they remain interred in Alaska.
In December 1946, the temporary cemetery at Fort Richardson was made a permanent site. Initially there were two sections in the cemetery. The remains of Allied soldiers were buried within a fenced area referred to as the "Allied Plot." Japanese soldiers who died in battles for the Aleutian Islands were buried outside the fence in an area designated as the "Enemy Plot." In July 1953, the 235 Japanese war dead buried at Fort Richardson were disinterred for proper cremation with appropriate Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies, under the supervision of the Japanese Embassy. In May 1981, a group of Japanese citizens in Anchorage had a new marker made to remember the soldiers who, in death, remain far from home.
Perhaps the most famous resident of Fort Richardson National Cemetery was Kermit Roosevelt, son of the 26th U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt. Kermit, who had held previous commissions in both the British and U.S. armies, was assigned to the Alaska Defense Command during World War II. He often accompanied pilots on their missions over the Aleutian Islands and played an active role in recruiting the native Alaskan tribes to join a territorial militia. Troubled by alcoholism and depression through much of his life, Major Roosevelt committed suicide at Fort Richardson June 3, 1943. His wife, Belle Roosevelt, advised then Chief of Staff General Dwight D. Eisenhower, that she wished for Kermit to be buried at the site. His father, she conveyed, had always said: "Where a tree falls, there let it lay."
On May 28, 1984, Fort Richardson Post Cemetery became Fort Richardson National Cemetery under the administration of the National Cemetery System. At the time of the transfer, all but 700 of the 2,000 gravesites had been used or reserved.
The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 2012.
Monuments and Memorials
A memorial stone gateway for Major Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was erected around 1949. Major Roosevelt was interred at the cemetery on June 8, 1943.
The Japanese cenotaph was erected in memory of 235 Japanese soldiers who died in Alaska during World War II in the battle for the Aleutian Islands. Of the 235 soldiers buried at the cemetery, most died in the Battle of Attu. A new cenotaph was erected in September 2002 to replace the aging cenotaph that had been in place since May 1981.