FERNLEY, Nev. (KOLO) They served our county, but for decades, the remains of 27 veterans have been left unclaimed at Walton's Mortuary. They served in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and most of them passed nearly 30 years ago.
"Nobody ever came to claim them," Tom Draughon with the Northern Nevada Veterans Coalition said. "Nobody ever came and took them home."
Along with the Missing in America Project, the Northern Nevada Veterans Coalition has taken on the mission of identifying unclaimed veterans, and giving them the final honors they deserved decades ago. That's what happened Friday afternoon at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Strangers from around the community gathered to pay their respects to the unclaimed veterans.
"We never leave a man behind," Nelson Huiracocha, Chief Petty Officer with the United States Navy, said. "And I think the country takes that to heart, especially those who have served."
Huiracocha is one of the 27 active and former military members who carried the remains of the unclaimed veterans to their final resting place.
"It's an honor to be part of this," he said "To be invited to do this. I wouldn't want to be one of the persons who don't come back home. I would like to come back home, and I would like to have those people help me."
For 96-year-old World War II veteran Charles Montanaro, this service was about laying his brother-in-arms to rest. That veteran is fellow Merchant Marine Knox Moore, who passed away in 1989. Montanaro said he saw Moore's name printed in the newspaper. He's not sure if he knew him, but Montanaro wanted to make sure Moore had someone by his side.
"He had no family," Montanaro said. "No one to tell him goodbye. I may have sailed with him, I don't know. He didn't deserve to be alone. Too many of our guys are alone."
Finding the alone and forgotten is the mission of the Missing in America Project. But that mission has a long way to go in Nevada. This is the fifth unclaimed veterans ceremony held at the NNVMC. Last service, 18 veterans were laid to rest, including one who passed away in 1949. Draughon says he doesn't know how many unclaimed veterans remain.
"I'm just going to say hundreds," he said. "We're talking not only our local area, but the state of Nevada. So we're looking."
Draughon says they will continue to look until every veteran who passes hears the words, 'Well done, good and faithful patriot. Enter into your well earned rest."
To learn more about the Missing in America Project, click here.
The veterans who were laid to rest are:
Charles Beckerman (1896-1984) served in the US Navy 1918 – 1918 WWI
Gerald Gillingham (1900-1990) served in the US Army 1918 – 1918 WWI
Edward Gerval (1915-1990) served in the US Navy 1945 – 1945 WWII
Joseph Bosse (1917-1988) served in the US Army 1941 – 1945 WWII
William Degliantoni (1919-1990) served in the US Navy 1940 – 1945 WWII
William Guthrie (1925-1990) served in the US Navy 1943 – 1946 WWII
Arturo Hayes (1922-1983) served in the US Marine Corp 1944 – 1946 WWII
Webster Johnson (1911-1988) served in the US Navy 1942 – 1946 WWII
Bernard Koolpe (1914-1988) served in the US Army 1940 – 1945 WWII
Richard Long (1921-1988) served in the US Army 1943 – 1950 WWII
Sterling McPherson (1921-1990) served in the US Army 1945 – 1947 WWII
Knox Moore (1921-1989) served in the US Merchant Marines 1942 – 1945 WWII
Eddie Robbins (1923-1988) served in the US Army 1945 – 1947 WWII
Andrew Sealock (1920-1990) served in the US Army 1943 – 1946 WWII
Earl Spaulding (1921-1989) served in the US Navy 1943 – 1945 WWII
Lorenzo Thompson (1913-1988) served in the US Army 1942 – 1945 WWII
Heinrich Ulrich Jr. (1907-1989) served in the US Navy 1943 – 1945 WWII
James White (1915-1989) served in the US Army 1943 – 1946 WWII
James Wilson (1920-1988) served in the US Army 1944 – 1946 WWII
James Adams (1924-1989) served in the US Navy 1944 – 1952 WWII/Korea
Edward Alexander (1921-1989) served in the US Navy 1941 – 1952 WWII/Korea
Lyle LaMere (1923-1989) served in the US Air Force 1942 – 1963 WWII/Korea
Devier Tozer (1925-1989) served in the US Navy 1943 – 1950 WWII/Korea
Terry Fausch (1934-1983) served in the US Air Force 1951 – 1955 Korea
Patrick Ingram (1936-1985) served in the US Army 1954 – 1957 Korea
Charles Roe (1921-1990) served in the US Navy 1941 - 1946/1969 – 1974 WWII/Vietnam
Ronald Bowser (1947-1984) served in the US Army 1965 – 1976 Vietnam