Homeless vets buried with honors at Dallas cemetery

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 10:54 AM

DALLAS — Patriot Guard riders circled up and removed their caps Wednesday morning at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

"Before they come over the hill, ya'll pray with me," said Rick Crabb, standing in the center. "We thank You for the opportunity we have to honor their service."

Four black hearses crested the hill, greeted by dozens of snapping American flags and hands raised in salute. Crabb finished his prayer.

"And now these four men don't have anyone but You and us. And we thank You that You are here with us," he said.

The four deceased veterans received full military honors in one ceremony, a first at the cemetery.

But there were no photos for us to know their faces; no widows or children to weep for them.

We don't know much more than than their names. Lt. Col. Billy Corn of the Texas State Guard read them off, moving from casket to flag-draped casket.

"Mr. Edgar Eugene Jordan. Mr. James Albert Snyder. Mr. Wesley Durwood Lewis. Mr. Gary Michael Grimes."

Sailor Gary Grimes came from Pennsylvania and was estranged from his family for 30 years.

James Snyder served in the Army from 1958 to 1960. "He had been residing in a nursing home," Chaplain Corn told the gathered crowd. "He never had a visitor the whole time he was there. No family could be located."

Air Force Sgt. Edgar Jordan lived homeless in Dallas. "He was just sitting on a woooden box outside with a couple of bottles of water," said Sylvia Figueroa.

She said Jordan clearly struggled with mental illness. Figueroa's homeless veterans outreach team returned to him time and again until they coaxed Jordan into the VA. He received comfort and cancer care until his death.

The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program has provided services for more than 70 North Texas vets at D-FW National Cemetery, and for more than 1,300 nationwide.

Men and women who served, drifted to the edges of society, and died with no one to claim their remains.

"We have mixed feelings," prayed Chaplain Corn. "These are men who served our country, and then they couldn't find a place to call home in our country."

No mourners attended the ceremonies when the program started back in 2003.

Now they do, including fellow veterans and anyone else feeling a debt to pay.

If you have any information about any of these veterans, please contact News 8.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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