Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery
Backstory and Context
Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery lies on 354 acres and was built to accommodate burial space for 60,000 people. Many members of various veteran service organizations wanted a cemetery in Southern West Virginia and asked for assistance from Senator Jay Rockefeller and Governor Joe Manchin in 2006. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was contacted about possible grant funding to build a cemetery in Southern West Virginia. Various sites including Summersville and Logan were considered for the location of the cemetery, but the land that was donated by DOW Chemical Company in Institute was the best fit for the grant application. A couple of years later, $14,118,456 was awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the construction of the cemetery. Groundbreaking of the cemetery took place in October of 2010.1
Donel C. Kinnard was born in Logan, West Virginia and graduated from Milton High School. He “entered the United States Marine Corps on July 28th, 1954 and served in the United States Navy as part of the UDT and the SEALS team. He completed seven tours of duty in Vietnam and was the most highly decorated veteran in Putnam County, receiving the Navy Cross, the Navy’s highest medal, along with seven Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and many other medals, commendations and citations.”1 Kinnard was wounded during a firefight, and he also conquered a NVA officer who attacked him from behind. He became notable for his involvement in a “sweep and clear operation”3 with the U.S. Marine forces.
After serving, Kinnard was active in various Veterans committees. He acted as Chairman of the West Virginia Veterans Cemetery Committee. He “played an instrumental role in the establishment of the state’s 120-bed nursing facility for veterans in Clarksburg.”3 He asked to be buried at the new West Virginia State Veterans Cemetery. Kinnard passed away on February 14th, 2009, and the “new” cemetery was dedicated in his name on May 28th, 2012.