DALLAS -- Wednesday afternoon at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 20 veterans will be laid to rest with military honors, although most of them will not have the honor of a family member witnessing their burial.
Every year the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office delivers the remains of homeless U.S. veterans to DFW National Cemetery for burial. This week 13 of the 20, despite exhaustive work by medical examiner investigators, will be buried without any next of kin having been found.
"It's probably more common than we realize. And that's the sad truth,” said Deborah Kamisato, administrative officer at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Kamisato says on average 40 unclaimed veterans are buried at the cemetery each year. Thousands more are buried at cemeteries across the United States.
They are veterans who may have been homeless, veterans who died in nursing homes without any descendants, or veterans who may have simply lost contact with their extended families.
"And it really does bother me when we have an unclaimed veteran who's being buried out here, because it's just very, very sad," Kamisato said.
The search continues for their families before these veterans are laid to rest at 1 p.m. Wednesday in section 18A -- with full military honors.
The 13 unclaimed veterans are identified as:
- Army Specialist Joseph David Dobson, 84
- Army Private Ned Carlston King, 56
- Army Specialist Dennis Wayne Moore, 63
- Marine Private Edward Charles Gipson, 60
- Marine Private Grant Wells, Jr., 63
- Navy Veteran Glenn Allen Gatton, 65
- Navy Ensign Patrick Michael Kelly, 62
- Navy Veteran Daniel Ray McKinley, 46
- Navy Veteran Michael Snyder, 58
- Navy Veteran Elbert Louis Wilson, 79
- Air Force Staff Sergeant William Brugemann Beeson, 86
- Air Force Master Sergeant Bobby Ray Gleason, 71
- Air Force Veteran Jerry G. Marshall, 81
"We also want to make sure they are buried with people around them, who care that they served this nation, who care that they were alive on this earth at one time. And so we will provide a proper military burial for them tomorrow,” said Kamisato.
And while the search continues for their families, the public is invited to attend to stand in for them, to honor these veterans and their service. So that "gone but not forgotten" can be part of their epitaph, too.