- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Thirteen military veterans whose remains went unclaimed at a Detroit morgue were finally laid to rest Thursday in side-by-side plots after a 60-mile procession in which state troopers on motorcycle accompanied the 13 hearses to the cemetery.

The bodies buried at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township were the last of 200 that were unclaimed and being held by the Wayne County medical examiner’s office. The civilian burials were completed last month. Some of the 200 bodies went unclaimed for as much as three years before they were buried. A private coalition stepped in when Wayne County was unable to bear the cost.

“This brings to an end a very tragic time in our community,” Dr. Richard Krugel, chairman of The Jewish Fund, said during the ceremony. His organization was a major player in coordinating the burials.

Of the 13 veterans who were buried Thursday, only one - Vietnam-era veteran Roland Dukes - had a family member present who received a flag from the casket.

“We appreciate them honoring him. A lot of time has passed by. It was a beautiful ceremony,” said Shimeca Jackson, Dukes’ niece.

Funeral arrangements were coordinated by the Missing in America Project, which also led efforts to identify and verify the military service record of each deceased veteran.

David Techner, funeral director of the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield and a member of the coalition responsible for the burials, said having “hundreds of bodies stacked up in the morgue” will never happen again. That’s because of what he calls “Initiative 91,” which calls for the coalition to step in and either bury or cremate a body that is not claimed within 90 days.

Maj. Carl Livingston, a chaplain with the Army National Guard, said during the service that “all service members just want to return home.”

These men did just that, he said.

“Rest in peace, dear brothers-in-arms,” Livingston said, before snapping off a salute to the 13 flag-draped caskets behind him.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide