Vet Cremains

Posted: May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

On 20 APR ten veterans were buried with full honors in an Arizona cemetery. One served in Africa during World War II, another in Korea. A third earned an Army Commendation Medal for his service in Vietnam. The men were homeless or indigent when they died, and their remains sat unclaimed in funeral homes for months, even years. In other states, volunteers have found the remains of veterans who fought in the Civil War. A new bill S.2244 : Veterans Missing in America Act of 2012 from Sens. Rob Portman R-OH) and Mark Begich (D-AK) would instruct the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with veterans’ organizations to help find and identify the unclaimed remains of former servicemembers, and, if they are eligible, to ensure their interment in national cemeteries. Portman and Begich’s office predict bipartisan support for the bill, which they expect to pass with little resistance. A similar bill H.R.2051 sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, already has 38 co-sponsors. But a version that was introduced in the last Congress died in committee.
Fred Salanti, the executive director of the Missing in America Project, which looks for and identifies the unclaimed remains of veterans and their dependents, worries that this year’s legislation will meet a similar fate.
“To me it’s very frustrating, because anybody that hears what we’re doing or sees what we’re doing automatically is on board,” he said. Since Salanti’s organization began in 2006, its work has led to the recovery, identification and burial of the remains of more than 1,600 veterans. He said the volunteers expected to reach 2,000 burials within the next couple of months. Many of the veterans they find were homeless or indigent when they died, he explained, while others were lost in mix-ups after their spouses or other loved ones died. The legislation, Salanti hopes, would help streamline the process and encourage funeral homes — which are sometimes fearful of releasing information or burial rights due to liability issues — to work with veterans’ organizations to identify unclaimed remains.
Neither the National Funeral Directors Association nor the Cremation Association of North America has records on the number of unclaimed remains at funeral homes. Barbara Kemmis, the executive director of the Cremation Association of North America, said the issue of unclaimed remains came up at a recent trade conference. Her impression from funeral home directors was that it’s an extensive problem. Funeral home directors will, “to a one,” she said, do everything they can to preserve cremated remains on the off chance that someone claims them. Some have even put up additions or new buildings to store them. The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t researched the cost of the Senate bill yet. A representative from Portman’s office said the CBO suggested that the cost should be low, considering that the VA already sets aside money for burying eligible veterans in national cemeteries. Another provision of both versions of the bill would instruct the VA to create a nationwide public database of missing remains to aid in their identification. Portman’s office added that the VA already keeps a database of veterans’ grave sites that could be adapted for accounting for missing remains, keeping costs down. There’s no CBO research into the House version of the bill, either, but an aide from Tiberi’s office said the cost would be “negligible.” [Source: Medil News service Andy Matarrese article 19 Apr 2012 ++]


The Missing in America Project (MIAP) will conduct its first ceremony in the State of Virginia by honoring eighteen veterans whose cremated remains have been in the care of Altmeyer Funeral Homes of Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Bucktrout Funeral Home in Williamsburg, yet have remained unclaimed. Services will be conducted with full military honors for the following eighteen veterans at 11:00 am, Saturday, May 12, 2012 at Bucktrout Funeral Home, 4124 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188
 Sgt. Carrel D. Cramer, 1920-1973, WWII US Army Air Force 1940-1945
 PFC Willie N. Dailey, 1933-2010, USA 1955-1957
 Captain Raymond H. Diggle, 1914-2003, USN Retired 1942-1972
 Corporal Durwood C. Ewell, 1930-1988, USA 1950-1953
 Fireman First Class Petty Officer Henry Ferguson, 1929-2002, USN 1946-1948
 Sgt Carl Galimore, 1922-1996, USA Retired, 1942-Jan 1946, Mar1946-1965
 Technician 5th Grade Murray Gray, 1919-2001, USA 1942-1946
 Chief Aviation Pilot Henry G. Luhring, 1922-1996, USN 1942-1946
 Technician 4th Grade Martin C. Malone, 1917-1997, USA 1943-1945
 Sgt Peter J. Maresca, 1907-1974, USA 1943-1945
 Sgt Stuart B. Miller, 1896-1989, USA 1917-1919
 Chief Storekeeper Robert A. Rees, 1905-1991, USN 1942-1944
 Pvt George S. Roger, Jr. 1917-1992, USA 1946-1947
 Lt. Parke S. Rouse Jr. 1916-1997, USN 1942-1946
 Pfc Ray C. Seigla, 1924-2007, USA 1943-1946
 Cpl Harry Silverman, Jr. 1917-1978, USA 1943-1946
 AB Thomas B. Smith 1942-2007, US Air Force 1961-1963
 Pfc Robert L. Sumner, 1913-1983, USA Air Corp 1942-1945
A Bucktrout-Altmeyer Funeral Home hearse carrying the cremated remains will be escorted by members of the MIAP, Veteran's Recovery Program, with American flags flying on motorcycles and vehicles to Quantico National Cemetery. The hearse will be followed by Patriot Guard Riders, Mustangs M/C, Combat Veterans M/C, other participating veterans organizations and any member of the public who like to attend via motorcycle or vehicle. Government officials, the public and media are invited to attend. Details are as follows:
 Services will be conducted 12 MAY 2012 at 11:00 am in the Bucktrout Funeral Home, 4124 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188
 Interment is scheduled for 14 MAY 2012 at 09:00 am in Quantico National Cemetery, 18424 Joplin Road, Triangle, VA 22172, Date: May 14, 2012
 For information and/or pre-event media coverage: Charlie Warthling – Virginia MIAP State Coordinator, 757.567.2682(C), 757.468.1139
A second ceremony for which the public is encouraged to attend is scheduled on 10 MAY 2012 at 1300 hrs (1:00 p.m.) at Great Lakes National Cemetery, 4200 Belford Road, Holly, Michigan 48442. The Michigan Police Escort and Honor Guard, Vietnam Veterans of America #154 Honor Guard, American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, Native American Veterans of SE Michigan are scheduled to participant. The following are to be interned:
 John Wayne Lillibridge, US Army
 Stephen Lewandowski, US Army
 Wanda Sue Greene, spouse of Paul Rayburn Greene, US Army
The purpose of the MISSING IN AMERICA PROJECT is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations; to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country, by securing a final resting place for these forgotten Heroes. For more information, visit [Source: MIAP Press Release 18 & 20 Apr 2012 ++]


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