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For one special man

The earliest burials there date back to California territory, though their interment there came later, after the remains were moved there in 1882.

There’s a monument there commemorating the 62 sailors who died aboard the USS Bennington when an explosion in the boiler room of the ship, then anchored in San Diego Harbor, ripped through the vessel on 21 July 1905.

There are memorials to the men of the USS Wasp, lost during Battle of Guadalcanal on Sept. 15, 1942, and to the men of the USS Gambier Bay, USS Hoel, USS Johnston, USS Samuel B. Roberts, and USS St. Lo, lost during the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Twenty-three Medal of Honor winners lie there among the white markers overlooking the bay and the Pacific, and many others including one of the legendary Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, a posthumous recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal.1

There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 101,000 people buried or memorialized in the 77.5-acre park-like setting of Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery,2 which lies on the long narrow spit of land called Point Loma, in San Diego County, California, with San Diego Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

And there is one, and only one, marker in that entire national cemetery that speaks to The Legal Genealogist‘s heart.

Where, thanks to Cindy Ehrlich of the San Diego Genealogical Society, yesterday, I laid eyes on that marker for the very first time.

Monte B. Cottrell was the fourth-born, and third surviving, child of my grandparents, the brother just older than my mother and to whom she was so very close. Born 23 November 1923, he died 6 August 1994, in San Diego County,3 where he had lived much of his adult life.

A World War II veteran of the Navy Armed Guard,4 his remains rest in that peaceful cemetery high on the narrow spit of land between the bay and the ocean. His marker is on one of the memorial walls, overlooking the white markers flowing down the hillside towards the Pacific.

It is a glorious view and a fitting resting place for this gentle member of my family.

RIP, Uncle Monte.

I’m so glad to have had the chance to see this lovely place with my own eyes.


Images: Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery, 32°41’12″N 117°14’41″W, Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA; photographed 8 Sep 2017, by the author.

  1. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery,” National Cemetery Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ( : accessed 8 Sep 2017).
  2. See Wikipedia (, “Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery,” rev. 30 Apr 2017.
  3. “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” entry for Monte Boyd Cottrell, database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 Sep 2017).
  4. See Judy G. Russell, “The untold story,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 10 Nov 2012 ( : accessed 8 Sep 2017).
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