Though not related to the Civil War/War Between the States, three men will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, May 25, 2009. Their interment is, in large part, thanks to the effort of a unique group of patriotic veterans who are also motorcycle enthusiasts who have formed the Missing In America Project, which locates and seeks to inter the remains of veterans or soldiers of other wars. Based in California, this group has thus far visited 648 funeral homes and found unclaimed cremains in of 6,642 soldiers (3,500 in the same funeral home.) They have Identified 571 cremains, and finally interred a total of 387.
Sad as it may be to think that so many brave soldiers and sailors and Marines have never had proper burial, various family circumstances and finances may have entered in to their ultimate abandonment.
Those whose cremains are being brought to Arlington by the dedicated group, include a Buffalo Soldier, a sailor from World War II, and an Army soldier from the Vietnam Conflict.
Isaiah Mays was the Buffalo Soldier, whose heroic deeds in defense of a payroll train earned him the Medal of Honor for his activities back in 1889 in what were then the wilds of Arizona. His remains had been buried in a pauper’s grave at an old Arizona hospital until located by the MIA folks. They felt a Medal of Honor recipient deserved better treatment.
World War II saw the outstanding service of Bosun’s Mate First Class Johnnie Franklin Callahan. Back in his war days, he always said if he did not make it home, he hoped to be buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery. He was aboard the USS Aulick 569, and when a Japanese bomber dropped a live bomb onto the deck of the ship, he picked it up and threw it out into the ocean, saving countless lives. For this act he received the Silver Star for valor. He will have his final wish come true on May 29.
James William Dunn spent 35 years in the Army, serving as a combat medic during the Vietnam conflict. He received numerous medals including the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal and ribbon. Part of one commendation reads, “Seeing one man seriously wounded by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) he left the comparative safety of a bunker where he had been treating others and moved to the seriously wounded man. Unprotected from the intense hostile fire, he treated the man…and carried him to the nearest bunker….he treated many others for hours, who would have died without his skill.” The family of Mr. Dunn requested the MIA Project to escort his remains to Arlington for burial.
The Dunn service will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, Mr. Callahan’s at 1:00 p.m. and Mr. Mays’ at 3:00 p.m.
A large contingent of motorcycle riders left Redding, CA on May 21, and will reach the Arlington area on May 28, having picked up additional riding compatriots along the way.
A unique group that has a different mission, sees three of its fellow soldiers home to rest forever.