Burial set in Dallas for 4 unclaimed veterans

March 13, 2013 5:55:17 PM PDT
As each of four caskets was placed into vans Wednesday, about a dozen veterans stood along a line of American flags nearby, saluting.

None of them knew the men who were about to be buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, but they had just attended a funeral service for them at a cemetery pavilion.

The men being buried were veterans who died earlier this year but whose bodies were never claimed. Instead of being cremated, they were buried with full military honors because of a program providing burials for homeless or indigent veterans.

"We are here today to honor the state's and the nation's greatest treasures," the Rev. Billy W. Corn, a chaplain for the Texas State Guard, told a group of about 50 mourners, mostly veterans.

Air Force Sgt. Edgar Eugene Jordan had been homeless before he died of cancer in January age 65 at an assisted living facility, and Department of Veterans Affairs officials said they couldn't locate any relatives for him.

Gary Michael Grimes, a Navy veteran, was a retired cinematographer who had been estranged from his family for decades, VA officials said. He died last week at age 56.

Army Spc. James Albert Snyder and Wesley Durwood Lewis, another Army veteran, had no known living relatives, VA officials said. Snyder died in January at age 77.

Lewis, who died in February at age 74, had attended Calvary Hill Baptist Church in Mesquite until he started living in a nursing home about three years ago, some church members said. A flag was presented at Wednesday's service to the Rev. James O'Dell, the church pastor, who said it would be placed in a display case.

"It was an encouragement to have a service for him," O'Dell said, adding that he believed Lewis would have liked the military funeral and burial.

The other three American flags that had draped the coffins were given to those who work with veterans.

The burial services were provided by the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, which has laid to rest about 1,300 homeless or indigent veterans. The program was founded in 2000.

Cindy Simpson, a Dallas funeral director who works with the program, said every veteran deserves to have an honorable burial because "they served our country, and they sacrificed, and they gave up a lot."

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