Fort Drum’s Prisoner of War (POW) Cemetery is the resting place of seven Italian and German service members interned at the Pine Camp compound during World War II. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Fort Drum community recalls final resting place
of former Italian, German service members
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 20, 2023) – Fort Drum’s Prisoner of War (POW) Cemetery is the resting place of seven Italian and German service members interned at the Pine Camp compound during World War II.
The cemetery, located next to Sheepfold Cemetery (formerly LeRaysville Cemetery) on Route 26, also serves as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between once warring nations. Every November, Fort Drum community members participate in two wreath-laying ceremonies at the POW Cemetery – in commemoration of Italy’s Armed Forces Day and National Day of Unity, and Germany’s Remembrance Day (see related articles at www.dvidshub.net/news/457257/fort-drum-recognizes-italys-national-day-unity-with-wreath-laying-pow-cemetery and www.dvidshub.net/news/458180/community-members-honor-fallen-during-german-remembrance-day-fort-drum-pow-cemetery).
These ceremonies began in the early 2000s, but the POW Cemetery was established in 1944 after the death of Pvt. Renato Facchini. Cpl. Christian Huppertz, the last soldier buried in the cemetery, died Sept. 28, 1945. By April 1946, the last of the World War II POWs were returned to their homelands and the Pine Camp internment facilities were shuttered.
Nearly a decade later, the POW camp and cemetery made headlines when Camp Drum officials addressed the discovery of four more POW gravesites – rumored to be the secret burial site of German spies or prisoners. Following an investigation and excavation of the grounds, the graves proved to be a hoax.
Although the POW Cemetery is part of the military reservation, a few community members took it upon themselves to become volunteer groundskeepers. According to newspaper articles, they planted flowers and trimmed the grass for more than 20 years, starting in 1957. The maintenance and care of the POW Cemetery eventually became the responsibility of the Directorate of Public Works.
In 2011, the Fort Drum Environmental Division began a program to improve and enhance the historic cemeteries on the installation, including the POW Cemetery. The names of all known veterans are listed at https://fortdrum.isportsman.net/Cemeteries.aspx with maps and driving directions to the 13 cemeteries.
According to the Office of Army Cemeteries, Fort Drum’s POW Cemetery is the smallest of 40 U.S. Army cemeteries in the country.