Officials at MacDill Air Force Base say 121 potential graves from a historic Black cemetery were located on the installation during a two-year archaeological survey — and it's likely that more could still be discovered.
The Florida base confirmed in a statement late last week that it had located the unmarked Port Tampa Cemetery, which dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“In 2022 and 2023, MacDill officials conducted a non-intrusive archaeological survey that identified multiple anomalies including 58 probable graves and 63 possible graves located in an area that had been previously identified as a possible location for an African American cemetery,” the 6th Air Refueling Wing, which is based at MacDill, said in a statement.
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Second Lt. Laura Anderson, a public affairs officer with MacDill, told Military.com on Monday that they utilized radar, dogs and a variety of historic records to identify the possible grave sites.
The finding of the dozens of possible grave sites is a major revelation and shows the length of the investigation and research taken on since 2019, when the Tampa Bay History Center notified Air Force officials that it was likely a cemetery was located on the grounds near the base's Tanker Way Gate.
In 2021, a memorial plaque and a historical marker were placed at the base, and a service was held to commemorate the Black community members who…