NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — They fought for our country, but no one claimed their remains when they passed away. Those eight Connecticut veterans were laid to rest Friday with full military honors.
It is an honor long overdue. Inside eight shiny boxes arriving inside four hearses were the cremated remains of eight men who served their country.
“It just breaks my heart that it took so long to get them here and honor them,” Air Force veteran Patti Durnin said.
We remember the wars, but these men who fought them were all but forgotten.
“These soldiers, veterans were lost, died, were sitting on a shelf for a few years, which I think is utterly disgusting,” Vietnam veteran Larry Riley said.
The World War I, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans passed away as long ago as 1972, but when they did, no one ever claimed their remains.
“It just surprised me that these people had nobody and were sitting on a shelf for all these years with nobody to claim them,” John Waggoner, a Vietnam veteran, said. “They deserve to have somebody here to bury them.”
In 2009, the state Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association to look into any unclaimed remains and find out if they served their country.
“We do the research to confirm whether they were a veteran, and if they were, we then hold these ceremonies, like this here,” Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Thomas Saadi said. “Year after year for the past 10 years.”
It doesn’t matter if they had no family to claim them when they passed. They wore the uniform, so they will always have a family. They are now surrounded by them at the State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown.
“A lot of work and research goes into it, but it is worth it because we have that common mission of making sure we leave no fallen veteran behind,” Saadi said.
“We will continue to make sure that no veteran dies without having a proper burial,” Riley said. “That’s not going to happen. Not on our watch.”
They say you die twice. Once when your body gives out, and once when people stop saying your name. So, here are their names. Say them and remember them:
1) Victor Herbert Anderson, U.S. Marines/Korean War, August 4, 1933-November 1, 2018, died in Seymour;
2) Orville K. Davis, U.S. Army/World War II, May 10, 1923-November 5, 1993, died in Southington;
3) Stephen Yoder Forrester, U.S. Army/Vietnam War, February 7, 1946-November 29, 1972, died in Branford;
4) Joseph P. Galipeau, U.S. Army/World War II, March 23,1929-October 29, 2001, died in Southington;
5) Lawrence W. Jordan, U.S. Army/World War I, October 10, 1898-August 5, 1976, died in Branford;
6) Bernard Joseph Lafleur, U.S. Navy/World War II, November 30, 1925-March 17, 2007, died in Southington;
7) George Dalton Parker, U.S. Navy/World War II, October 30, 1916-September 10, 1984, died in Hartford; and
8) Lawrence Earl Tefft, U.S. Navy/World War II, July 14, 1927-February 9, 1998, died in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.