LOCAL NEWS

Members of Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square pay respects to fallen US soldiers in the Philippines

Feb 24, 2024, 5:22 PM | Updated: Feb 26, 2024, 10:28 am

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square visited the largest American cemetery outside of the United States, making it a tender and special day for all.

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines is 152 acres in size and has 17,113 headstones of those military members who died during World War II.

“Just a peaceful, sacred, and beautiful place,” said choir member Jana Ellsworth to KSL TV. “Even the grass is laid perfectly around the tombstones.”

“There is a sacredness to a place like this,” said choir member Cory Jensen. “I’m overwhelmed with the weight of everything that they sacrificed and we get to benefit from.”

However, for choir member Dennis Flynn, the cemetery became personal quickly. That’s because his great uncle, Carl Guy Draper, is buried in the cemetery.

Draper was a pilot in the Marines whose plane went down during a dog fight on May 25, 1945, in the Southeast Pacific.

A trip to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines quickly became personnel for Dennis Flynn, a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. His great uncle, Carl Guy Draper, is buried there after dying in World World II. (Dan Rason, KSL TV)

“I can’t describe it. It’s overwhelming,” Flynn said. “I grew up revering Carl Guy Draper who gave the ultimate sacrifice in our family but never thinking I would have the opportunity to pay tribute to him right here until the choir had scheduled this stop, and I did a little research and learned where he is buried.”

He quickly Facetimed his dad.

“I thought you might like to see this live,” said Flynn to his father.

“Wow that’s awesome,” his dad said.

Flynn then got other family members on the call.

“This is Carl Guy Draper’s final resting place. Can you believe that no one has ever seen that from our family?” he said.

In another location of the cemetery, some choir members gathered to spontaneously sing one of their famous patriotic songs, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

A field trip and a moment in time during the choir’s world tour stop in the Philippines none of them will forget, especially Flynn who connected in a personal way with a beloved family war hero.

“This is a special experience and makes this entire trip meaningful to me personally,” Flynn said. “I’m the first one in the family that has ever been this close and being able to visit him in the nearly 80 years.”

KSL 5 TV Live

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Members of Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square pay respects to fallen US soldiers in the Philippines