Vet buried in December wasn't 'homeless' — he was alone

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaasebastian

WFAA

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 4:51 PM

DALLAS — Last December, we first told you about three homeless veterans who were given military honors and buried in Dallas.

Now, months later, we have learned one of those vets was not homeless after all, and his friends are relieved to know what happened to him.

Army Spc. 4th Class Thomas “Bud” Yoakum was among the “homeless veterans” buried on December 19. He died with no family to claim him. At his funeral service, there were no photographs — just a name and a rank.

But that name that sounded very familiar to Ed Vincent, a friend who lived 1,100 miles away. He contacted News 8 months after our initial story was broadcast.

"We had heard about the death, so I instantly got online and Googled and tried to find out... can it be real that it is him?" Vincent said in an interview via Skype from Florida.

Vincent had been trying to reach his friend for months without knowing Yoakum had died. Understandably, he was worried.

"We really needed to tell the whole story, because he wasn't just a homeless veteran that got kicked to the curb," Vincent explained. "He went on to serve very proudly, and he went on to do as much as he could for the military and for our country."

The two met in California in the late 90s and worked at a nonprofit organization that produced videos for the military.

As Yoakum aged, he got sick, eventually losing his eyesight and losing touch with friends and family.

Friends for more than a decade, Vincent knew little of Yoakum's personal life. He was described as a proud man who kept to himself, sharing very little about his deteriorating health.

Friends said that while Yoakum was deemed homeless, he did die alone inside his Dallas apartment. He was buried among strangers.

"I just knew Bud as a very giving person, and really hope this will bring him some honor and some closure for the rest of us," Vincent said, adding that Yoakum's story isn't sad, but a chance to finally say goodbye to an old friend.

E-mail srobertson@wfaa.com

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