Three homeless veterans laid to rest through burial program

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaasebastian

WFAA

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM

DALLAS -- The sound of tree leaves rustling in the wind interrupts what is otherwise a silent procession at the Dallas Ft. Worth National Cemetery.

The three men honored died alone, no family no estate. Thursday, it would be strangers that lay them to rest -— strangers that share a record of service.

It’s all a part of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.

“God's the only one from keeping us in their place,” said Mike Lambert, one of several members of the Patriot Guard Riders of Texas. “Anytime veterans are laid to rest out here that don’t have a family, we’ll be here as their family.”

There are no pictures of the men, but for all a record of service: Army Specialist Fourth Class Thomas Yoakum, Army Sergeant John Dixon, and Ronald Blair, a navy veteran, but his rank unknown.

Lt. Col. Billy Corn, a chaplain with the Texas State Guard delivered the Eulogy.

“These are brothers, these are sisters, that saluted our flag, that wore our flag across them, that stood in protection of our country, and now I want to make sure that our country is there for them,” Corn said.

Lt. Col. Corn has made it his mission to bring homeless veterans dignity after death. Thursday marks his 82nd burial in ten years.

It doesn’t matter how many he does, it never gets any easier.

“They would be buried in a potter’s field somewhere -- many veterans are there. My father is there, as a matter of fact, somewhere," Corn said. "My father was, I didn’t know where he was, he died. And I don’t know where he’s buried."

It's a life’s mission that has earned him the name "the homeless chaplain." In his ten years, he has never seen a turn out like the one Thursday at the Dallas Ft. Worth National Cemetery.

“When I look at the fact that they were homeless, that is a secondary issue," he said. "It’s the fact that they wore the uniform... that’s the issue.”

Corn doesn’t want you to pity the three men buried. He doesn’t want to find someone to blame.

He wants the world to know that all three men served their country years ago.

E-mail srobertson@wfaa.com

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