VMRT is currently working to restore dignity to our Heroes interred in Historic Oaklawn Cemetery, a predominately black, seemingly forgotten, and abandoned, non-perpetual care cemetery located at 1850 Holt Rd., Mobile, AL.
History of Veterans Memorial Recovery Team
2017 - 2020
Veterans Memorial Recovery Team, (501(c)(3), (VMRT) is a volunteer veterans and community group in Mobile, AL, dedicated to the restoration of Historic Oaklawn Cemetery a predominately black cemetery dating back to the 1870’s.
This effort was initiated in November 2017, it has grown to include a large number of members of the Mobile and Oaklawn family community. In September 2018, Oaklawn Memorial Cemetery was officially registered as a historical cemetery by the Alabama Historical Commission, at the same time it was listed as Alabama's Historical Places in Peril.
The non-perpetual care 20-acre cemetery was completely overgrown and seemingly forgotten. Historical and burial information indicates that this cemetery was primarily serving the Mobile, Alabama, African American community including key community leaders, educators, lawyers, politicians, entertainers, Veterans and others from all walks of life. Lacking historical records, one of our main goals is to create a formal record and memorial for ALL burials in Historic Oaklawn Cemetery. Ownership has yet to be determined, seems no one wants to claim ownership.
This cemetery is recognized as having a large concentration of Veteran burials from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf War, beginning in the early 1930's. There are Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen, and warriors from all branches of the military buried at Oaklawn.
One of our goals is to locate, document, clean, and place an American flag by each Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsman, Airman, and Merchant Marine, in recognition of their service to the community and nation.
The work to date has included significant efforts to clear grass, brush, trees, and yes, trash (being polite) from an area that has been technically abandoned for many years. Present count is 826+ Veterans and over 8,700 burials, with less than 50% having been documented.
One of our projects is to, twice a year, replace the 6 military service flags and the American flag at the entrance of the cemetery.
Our primary goal is to locate military Veterans, to do this we have to clear over 30 years of neglect by removing trees and overgrowth.
Our organization has been working in Oaklawn since December of 2017. We have recently formed a nonprofit because it was obvious to us that we were not going to be able to complete this task with our limited resources.
We are seeking grants to cover the expense of having the entire cemetery cleared, 20 acres, which involves removing trees and overgrowth, one tree at a time. It is a huge task because of the headstones it is impossible to get heavy equipment in the cemetery.
We are seeking grants to cover the maintenance of the cemetery on a regular basis once the trees and overgrowth has been cleared.
We have several organizations who have volunteered in an effort to restore dignity to those individuals interred at Oaklawn: FOX10 News, Boy Scouts of America, Girls Scouts of America, Mobile County Public School Principals, JROTC, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, American Legion of Alabama, United States Coast Guard, Montford Point Marines, USS Mobile-Chief Petty Officers, Mobile BayKeepers, Americorp, Team Rubicon, St Thomas Church, Chickasaw, Truevine Missionary Baptist Church, Carver Homes Baptist Church, and individuals as well. Donations from from Austal, South Alabama Veterans Council, Honor Release Return, , Booth Family Foundation, Christian Benevolent Funeral Home, and many others!!
The cemetery is located on "The Campground", which was the site of a Confederate Camp during the Civil War. The rich history of those interred at Historic Oaklawn Cemetery deserves to be preserved.
The address is 1800 Holt Rd. Mobile, AL 36617, adjacent to the Catholic Cemetery on MLK Dr., Mobile, AL.