FERNLEY — Each veteran could have been someone’s brother, son or husband, yet for some reason beyond their control, they became forgotten after they died.
With their custom-made urns lined up like soldiers in formation, a folded flag leaned against the middle urns, symbolic of their service to their country during one of three wars: World War II, Korea or Vietnam.
The Nevada Veterans Coalition conducted its sixth Missing in Nevada funeral at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery with military honors Friday to remember 13 men who never received the proper burial after they died. Some of remains sat on a shelf — covered with thick dust — for decades until testing determined the identity of each veteran. Of the 13 men, 11 served during World War II and one each from Korea and Vietnam, while the oldest veteran was 87 years old when he died.
The veterans’ remains had been in the care of Walton’s Funeral Homes until their urns were driven to the NNVMC on a chilly, but pleasant late fall Friday afternoon.
Tom Draughon, spokesman for the NVC and also one of the organization’s chaplains, said the coalition and those attending the service were giving closure to the forgotten veterans. He said every veteran deserved a final honor for serving his country.
“Those of us of the Nevada Veterans Coalition, we have heard that call and we will not rest until every veteran that is out there in the state of Nevada has been given honors, and it will take a while to do this,” Draughon said.
Kat Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, acknowledged the veterans’ sacrifices and a general assessment of their backgrounds.
“Veterans that we honor here today had lives that were full of life, and exciting and vibrant, and full of family and friends who loved them,” Miller said. “The simple fact is it is not at all possible for families to be here and sometimes, veterans outlive those who love them. So, these unaccompanied memorial services show that these veterans who are interred are in the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery are not buried alone but are surrounded by brothers and sisters in service and by our community supporters.”
Miller added, “We did not know you but you are one of us.”
Lynda Freeman, coordinator of the project to identify veterans and present them for internment, said it has taken many hours to make the ceremonies possible. According to the NVC, the coalition relied on Walton’s Funerals Homes for their vast database to identify veterans and the National Personnel Records Center for their researchers. NVC members also spent countless volunteer hours of research, while the staff at the NNVMC guided the coalition through the proper procedures to return these veterans the cemetery.
The largest military service for recently identified veterans’ remains occurred in late September when 27 were interred. Freeman read the names of each veteran as Navy reservist Jonathan Burnett rang a bell once for each man followed by the playing of taps by Ray Ahrenholz. The recognized veterans are as follows:
WWII — Thomas Anderson (1920-1977), U.S. Army 1940–1945.
WWII —James Betancourt (1926-1993), U.S. Navy 1944–1944.
WWII— John Bohm (1925-1979), U.S. Navy 1942– 1946.
WWII —James Brady (1915-1972), U.S. Army 1942–1946.
WWII— Joe Brown (1905-1987), U.S. Army 1942–1944.
Vietnam — Dale Carrigan (1950-1986), U.S. Army 1968 – 1970.
WWII — George Carson (1917-2004), U.S. Army 1944 –1946.
Korean —Paul Cole (1937-1997), U.S. Air Force 1954–1962.
WWII —Willie Crumpler (1902-1977) served in the U.S. Army 1942–1943.
WWII — Howard Davis (1909-1990), U.S. Army 1944–1946.
WWII —Edgar Erickson (1920-1992), U.S. Army 1940–1945.
WWII — Sherwood Jerome (1926-1992), U.S. Army 1944–1954.
WWII — Clyde Matthews (1906-1990), U.S. Navy/US ARNG 1926-1936/1940-1943.
A procession of NVC volunteers carried the urns to the columbarium for final placement as Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil played the bagpipes to lead the procession, and guests walked behind the coalition and flag bearers.