Unclaimed cremains of eight veterans receive full military honors

Motorcycle procession starts in Amarillo, ends at Fort Sam Houston Cemetery

SAN ANTONIO – Eight veterans who were cremated and never claimed were honored Friday with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A 445-mile motorcycle procession led by members of the Patriot Guard Riders and various law enforcement agencies escorted a hearse carrying the cremains from Amarillo to San Antonio.

"It makes me feel particularly proud and honored to be able to be a part of making sure they were respected the way they should be," said Pete Johnson of the San Antonio Chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders. 

Originally, the Patriot Guard Riders were just going to receive the remains, but then decided the war heroes needed an escort. 

The veterans died homeless or without any known surviving family members, and their cremains were housed in an Amarillo courthouse.  

Thanks to the work of the organization, Missing In America, the cremains were discovered to belong to veterans. Members of the organization exhausted all avenues looking for relatives before they finally took it upon themselves to make final arrangements.

"Many are homeless, some pass away in a home with no known family," said Joel Carver, of Missing In America.

One of cremains belonged to Dana Dean Milton Jr.,who served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Milton served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force and was awarded the Purple Heart. His cremains may have been unclaimed since 1987, Carver said. 

"These cremains were left alone, unclaimed and this was something that needed to be done," Carver said.

Before the procession arrived in San Antonio, it made a stop in Kerrville, where some residents lined the streets to pay their respects. Among them was Karen Brady, who took two of her grandchildren.

"It was very awesome, very touching, very moving," Brady said.

At the cemetery, the Memorial Services Detatchment Honor Guard performed three volleys of rifle fire and the sounding of taps. Flag folders from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force were also at the ceremony.

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