Skip to comments.2,000 are family for unclaimed veterans Cemetery Administrator Larson: 'You are the next of kin'
Posted on 03/23/2014 9:24:17 AM PDT by SandRat
SIERRA VISTA As a piper played Going Home, the cremains of 13 veterans were carried by soldiers, sailors and airmen, and placed on a table on the amphitheater stage at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
It was time Saturday afternoon to give the final salute to the 13, whose remains had not been claimed except by the Arizona part of the Missing in America Project (MIAP).
It was not the first time such a ceremony has been held at the state-operated cemetery, on land which once was part of Fort Huachuca, until the Army turned the acreage over to the state.
Cemetery Administrator Joe Larson noted such a service is held twice a year in support of the MIAP, and gave his appreciation to the escorting motorcyclists and the public more than 2,000 who came as the family members of the dead veterans.
Army Chaplain (Col.) Samuel Godfrey, the post chaplain on Fort Huachuca, said the service was to honor the men and women who answered the call to service.
While most in the audience did not know the 13, they showed up to render honors due every member of Americas armed forces when they die, he said.
The prayer done, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, sang the National Anthem, as she did last year.
Jerry Procter, the civilian deputy to the commander of the Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, said the internment ceremony is an important event.
Dressed in bikers clothing, Procter who rides with local motorcyclists as part of the escort from Tucson to Sierra Vista said the taking of the cremains and marching them through a cordon of American flags is part of the ceremony and honor each deserve for their service in the Army, Navy and Air Force.
They may have died not thinking they would have a ceremony, he said, but others, including those in the audience, ensured they did.
Looking out over those sitting and standing in the cemeterys amphitheater, Proctor said you are their loved ones doing the the right thing, which we all know they deserve.
As with most military burial services, a rifle party fired 21 shots, Army bugler Sgt. Jonathan Borsarge, of the forts 62nd Army Band, sounded the 24 mournful notes of Taps and the symbolic unfolding and folding of American flags took place.
For Christine Arslanian, who received one of the triangular-folded flags, it was an unexpected honor.
She is a nurse and took care of one of the 13 former Army Pfc. James Taylor Jobe until his death the day before his 65th birthday.
Her eyes still glistening with drying tears, she said Jobe was never bitter, never angry he helped people, he lifted and carried things for people.
To her the flag presentation is even more special, as she has never attended a military burial service, which she said was one of beauty.
Everyone needs to come to such a ceremony, Arslanian said as she caressed the flag, as once again tears began to flow down her right cheek, wetting the blue union of the national banner.
Then she and other of Jobes friends walked to the columbarium where he cremains were being placed.
It was time for the final farewell between patient and friend, but more importantly, between friends.
As Larson earlier said to the crowd at the ceremony as you can see we are their family, we are their next of kin.
Those laid to rest
Following are the names of the 13 Missing in America Project veterans who were laid to rest
Saturday at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista.
Army veterans Elsie M. Bright, World War II WAC; Arthur Ronald Brown, Vietnam Era; James Taylor Jobe, Vietnam War; Kelly OBrien, Vietnam War; and, Patrick Neil Petitt, Peacetime.
Navy veterans A.V. Fiegel, World War II; Roberto Hernandez, Vietnam War; and, Timothy Lee Kerley, Vietnam War.
Air Force Veterans Thomas Carpenter, Vietnam War; Johnny Singleton, Vietnam War; John W. Smith, Vietnam War; Isidore Spitzer, Vietnam War; and, Lee A. Vanyo, Peacetime.
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