Veterans Lost, But Not Forgotten

This week, Nebraska will recognize a different set of veterans. Those who had been cremated -- and never received the proper military burial.

Five Nebraska veterans -- in specially designed urns with the image of an American flag and complete with a dog tag -- will come home to Fort McPherson National Cemetery this Friday.

A funeral with full military honors and the dignity they never received. Until now, their ashes had been unclaimed at a funeral home or state hospital.

"We're here to help," said Larry Schaber with the Nebraska Missing in America project. "We're not here to point fingers or put shame on anybody. We just want to take our brothers and sisters and put them to rest."

It's a tiny organization with a big mission.

Last September, the group escorted three "forgotten" veterans to Maxwell, Nebraska, for the respect due to them.

They found their unclaimed ashes stored away in Nebraska funeral homes. Organizers identified them as veterans -- and put into motion a military escort -- at no cost.

"We all remember when we enlisted," said Bill Henry with Nebraska Missing in America, "We gave the United States of America a blank check. It included a lot of things -- that could include our lives."

"It was very draining to bill and me," said Larry. "It was like we buried three of our own family members."

On Friday, the two will do it again. Five unclaimed urns this time: Hazel Wood, US Army WAC from World War II; Floyd Johnson, US Army from Korea; Gary Hirschman, USMC from Vietnam; Charles Warner, US Army from Vietnam; and Reginal Prim, US Navy from Vietnam.

"Veterans don't just disappear into the sunset," said Larry. "Veterans are like the rest of us. Some have problems. People will have problems or perhaps fall out of favor with family."

Organizers believe there are 500 other Nebraskans who have died, were cremated and are waiting for the same honor.

"There are others that need to be in a cemetery -- they haven't gotten the honor --- and gone to final resting place -- they deserve the flag -- the 21-gun salute and taps."

The military burial at Fort Mcpherson National Cemetery on Friday at 3pm. All five died in the last few years.

There will be a send-off service for them at Good Shepherd Funeral Home at 24th and J Streets at 6 a.m. Friday.

Then they begin the long trek to Fort McPherson with dozens of motorcycles following along.


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