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Florida National Cemetery


Detailed history

Florida National Cemetery is located in the Withlacoochee State Forest, approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of Tampa. The forest was acquired by the federal government from private landowners between 1936 and 1939 under the provisions of the U.S. Land Resettlement Administration. The United States Forest Service managed the property until a lease-purchase agreement transferred it to the Florida Board of Forestry in 1958. Currently, Withlacoochee State Forest is the second-largest state forest in Florida, divided into eight distinct tracts of land.
In 1842, Congress encouraged settlement here by establishing the Armed Occupation Act. The law granted a patent for 160 acres (0.65 km2) to any man who kept a gun and ammunition, built a house, cultivated 5 acres (20,000 m2) of the land and remained there for at least five years. Settlers moved in to take advantage of the generous offer. The area contained abundant timber and suitable farmland, appealing attributes to frontiersmen. In 1845 Florida was granted statehood.
During the Civil War, a sugar mill on the Homosassa River supplied sugar to the Confederacy. A robust citrus-growing industry developed in the eastern part of the area and became a focus of intense economic expansion soon after the war.
In 1980, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it would establish a new national cemetery in Florida, its fourth. Two major locations for the cemetery were studied: property near the Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Withlacoochee State Forest. The Withlacoochee site, though more environmentally sensitive, was supported by government officials. In February 1983, the state transferred land to the VA for the development of a Florida National Cemetery. The first burial was in 1988 and a columbarium was opened in November 2001.[2]
In 1999, federal officials asked the Florida Cabinet to grant land for the expansion of the Florida National Cemetery, providing 65,000 to 100,000 grave sites for veterans in the state. Environmentalists argued that Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Forestry Division officials did not state whether the 179 acres of land within the Withlacoochee State Forest was surplus in accordance to a Florida constitutional amendment concerning the acquisition of land for conservation. Before the Florida Cabinet meeting on October 26, the Department Veterans Affairs and the Florida Cabinet agreed that 42 acres would be removed as they served as the habitat for several endangered species. Florida governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet voted 7-0 in favor of selling 137 acres of land to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the cemetery's expansion.

Buried or commemorated

  • Frederick Ammerpohl

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | 416th Bomb Group

  • Robert Creed

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 401st Bomb Group
    After falling out of formation and then being attacked by fighters on the return from a mission to Erkner, Berlin on 8 Mar 1944, B-17G #42-31488 'Shade Ruff' crashed SE of meppen, GR after the crew baled out. Prisoner of War (POW). at Stalag Luft 1 ...

  • Hector Marsiglia

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Radio Operator | 390th Bomb Group
    Crew Number 7

  • Wilfred Siggs

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 416th Bomb Group


Date Contributor Update
30 November 2020 03:26:46 466thHistorian Created entry with name, latitude, longitude and history