MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)-- Rich soil and deep rooted history, The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery, is the final resting place for hundreds of heroes.

Since 2017, the Veterans Memorial Recovery Team (VMRT) has made it their mission to restore the cemetery and bring dignity to all 2,000 veterans they believe are buried there, working to find and identify them.

“With 20 acres to clear it’s a struggle. The pandemic hit, the people quit coming out and the cemetery did not quit growing,” said Bill Atkeinson, President of Veterans Memorial Recovery Team. 

The cemetery has come a long way in the last couple of years, clearing 10 acres of tall grass and unkempt trees on the 22 acre property, uncovering more than 850 graves along the way, one as recently as Thursday.

“We need a lot of operating capital to get in here and really clean the cemetery the way it should be.”

It's a ceaseless mission at the mercy of volunteers.

Many organizations have contributed over the years, including FOX10 news, supporting the non-profit from the beginning, committing to doing our part to pay tribute to our military heroes.

As they try to raise awareness about the incredible needs at the cemetery, VMRT  hopes people will be inspired by the sacrifices made by heroes, like Robert Andry, who fought in World War II.

“Finished the 12th grade and Uncle Sam said… sent me that little notice say ‘we need you,’” said Andry.

80% of his body was burned during combat.

“Hit by a German bazooka and therefore it hit the tank right where i was sitting inside of the tank as a gunner.”

The 96-year-old is proud to see younger generations pay tribute to fellow veterans.

“People like that, that gives me the strength to go on because at 96 years old he can get up, put up his purple heart and come out here,” said Eddie Irby, President of the 92nd Infantry Division Buffalo Soldiers WWII.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved, even if you don’t have a loved one buried there.

The more manpower the better.

Volunteers will be out again from 9:00 a.m. to 11 a.m.

If you’d like to help, but can’t make it out to volunteer, the non-profit also accepts monetary donations.

Click here if you’d like to donate through PayPal.

Checks can also be made to Veteran Memorial Recovery Team and mailed to 9060 Ponderosa Dr. South in Semmes

You can also contact

Fran Barber

251-605-1290

Bill Atkeison

251-649-2281

All content © 2021, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

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