We Salute These Homeless Veterans Laid to Rest in 2019

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are over 30,000 homeless veterans living across the country. Too often, veterans who are homeless or indigent pass away while living on the streets, or without family members or friends able to claim them.

When family can’t be located or there are no resources to pay for a funeral service, a community of volunteer Dignity Memorial® funeral homes, veteran service groups, local medical examiners, coroners and veterans advocates step up to offer a proper and dignified funeral service.

We want to make sure that their service in life merits their military honor funeral,” says William Lynch, of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program.

This year, thousands of strangers attended these funeral services to ensure veterans were given a dignified final service, a show of support and respect that every service member deserves.

Here are 21 of the veterans who so honorably served our country and were laid to rest in the past year. Let us never forget their service.




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Will Melvin Shegog, U.S. Air Force

March 24, 1960 – Feb. 15, 2019

Specialist Will Melvin Shegog served in the U.S. Air Force from June 1978 through September 1979, achieving the rank of E3. He passed away on Feb. 15, 2019, and had no known family when he died. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted Shegog’s casket to the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona where he was buried with full military honors. The ceremony was attended by a large crowd of veterans and mourners on the morning of Feb. 27, 2019.

Photo: From the Family




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Ronnie Joe Lundy, U.S. Army

Feb. 4, 1955 – Jan. 18, 2019

Specialist Ronnie Joe Lundy enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 26, 1973, serving three years with Company A, United States Army Support Command, Hawaii, United States Army Forces Command. He was honorably discharged and received the National Defense Service Medal. Sp4 Lundy was laid to rest with full military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: From the Family




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Joseph Lorenzo Williams, U.S. Army

April 7, 1960 – April 1, 2019

Joseph Lorenzo Williams honorably served his country as a member of the U.S. Army from 1978-1981. Williams was a Washington, D.C., native who served his country for three years in the U.S. Army. Eighty people — most of whom were veterans or family of active service members — gathered as Williams and another unclaimed veteran were laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Jackson National Cemetery, near Columbia, South Carolina.

Photo: Sharon Williams




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Danny Rollin Ballantyne, U.S. Marine Corps

Nov. 15, 1944 – April 30, 2019

Danny Rollin Ballantyne actively served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1962-1965 and rose to the rank of lance corporal. He was honored with a Good Conduct Metal. Over 100 people gathered to serve as family for Lance Corporal Ballantyne at Fort Jackson National Cemetery as he was laid to rest on May 8, 2019.

Photo: The State




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

George Charles Babcock, U.S. Army

Feb. 17, 1940 – June 4, 2019

George Charles Babcock served in the U.S. Army from April 1963 to May 1965, later working at Argonne National Laboratory. Though he had no friends or family to attend the service, lines of vehicles entered the cemetery to gather in Babcock’s memory. About 300 people came to show their support at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Babcock received a 21-gun salute as honor guards and complete strangers who heard about his story came out to salute the veteran.

Photo: Rachel Barks, The Herald News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

James Miske, U.S. Navy

Dec. 21, 1944 – May 26, 2019

Petty Officer 3rd Class James Miske served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War from 1965- 1967 and received a National Defense Service Medal and a Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star. After serving, Miske went into the Naval Reserves. Miske was not homeless when he died, but no family members could be found. Hundreds of community members gathered to pay respects to the veteran on June 14, 2019, at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.

Photo: Lauren Petracca, The Post and Courier




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Stephen Jerald Spicer, U.S. Army

April 18, 1947 - June 14, 2019

Stephen Jerald Spicer faithfully served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged with the rank of E4. Spicer was an Oak Park, Illinois, native. There were no relatives present at Spicer’s funeral, but his passing didn’t go unnoticed. Several dozen patriotic strangers showed up at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell to honor his service on July 18, 2019.

Photo: Orlando Sentinel




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Howard Nicholas Warren, U.S. Army

June 15, 1949 - July 16, 2019

SP5 Howard Nicholas Warren served in the U.S. Army from April 1969 to April 1971. The majority of the attendees at his funeral service knew nothing about Warren, but veterans and active servicemen showed up to support their fallen brother. Members from Forces United, Wounded Warrior Project and the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association came to pay their respects at Elliot Sons Funeral Home in Martinez, Georgia.

Photo: WRDW




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Charles Bradley Fox, U.S. Marine Corps

Oct. 26, 1958 – Oct. 7, 2018

Charles Bradley Fox, 60, of Memphis, Tennessee, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and died on Oct. 7, 2018. His remains were not claimed. He was laid to rest with military honors on Jan. 17, 2019, at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Commercial Appeal




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

James David Ellis, U.S. Army

July 28, 1943-July 23, 2018

Specialist 4th Class James David Ellis served in the U.S. Army from March 16, 1967, to Oct. 26, 1968, with Battery C 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division including one year on foreign soil with the U.S. Army Pacific Command. He was laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Frank Harmon Wilson, U.S. Army

August 22, 1946-August 3, 2018

Sergeant Frank Harmon Wilson served 13 years with Company B, 2/34th Infantry Battalion FORSCOM FC. He received the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 2, Good Conduct Medal (4th Award), Third Class (Hand Grenade), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm (Unit) Combat Infantryman Badge, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Overseas Service Bars with Numeral 2. He was laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Wesley Russell, U.S. Army

July 28, 1942 – Sept. 14, 2018

Wesley Russell, 76, of Memphis, Tennessee, died on Sept. 14, 2018. His remains were not claimed. Born in St. Helena, California, Russell served in the U.S. Army. He was laid to rest with military honors on Jan. 17, 2019, at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Arnold Martin Klechka, U.S. Army

April 15, 1947 – Oct. 10, 2018

Arnold Martin Klechka, 71, of Memphis, Tennessee, died on Oct. 10, 2018. His remains were not claimed. Born in Houston, Texas, Klechka served in the U.S. Army. He was laid to rest with military honors on Jan. 17, 2019, at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

James Michael Farrar, U.S. Army

August 1, 1947 – Oct. 2, 2018

Private First Class James Michael Farrar served in the U.S. Army with the 523rd Engr. Co. USARPAC from Nov. 15, 1966 to Nov. 3, 1968. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News



https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/knoxville-tn/charles-burnett-8139118
21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Charles Joseph Burnett, U.S. Army

Nov. 20, 1946 – Oct. 16, 2018

Specialist 5th Class (T) Charles Joseph Burnett was inducted in the U.S. Army on April 25, 1968, and served with the 55th Aviation Company, Eighth Army. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forced Expeditionary Medal and M14 Marksman. His wife Angela Marie Burnett was interred with him. They were laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Robert Lee Baker, Jr., U.S. Navy

March 15, 1948 – Dec. 10, 2018

Seaman Apprentice Robert Lee Baker, Jr., was born in Barbourville, Kentucky, and joined the U.S. Navy on March 23, 1965 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was discharged at the Naval Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 9, 1966. During his 11 months in the Navy, he was assigned to the USS Springfield (CLG-7). He was laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: Knoxville News




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Stephen Sebastian Cunningham, U.S. Army

Jan. 25, 1950 – Dec. 27, 2018

Specialist 4th Class Stephen Sebastian Cunningham entered the U.S. Army on Sept. 24, 1970, serving three years at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Expert Grenade and Sharpshooter M16. He was laid to rest with military honors on Feb. 5, 2019, at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Photo: WATE




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

George Shaw, U.S. Coast Guard

Jan. 24, 1951 – March 6, 2019

George Shaw served his country honorably in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1969-1973, achieving the grade of SS2 Subsistence Specialist, 2nd Class. Shaw had no immediate family and was unclaimed. He was laid to rest with military honors on April 12, 2019, at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Richard Lindsay Butterfield, U.S. Marine Corps

June 14, 1939 – April 4, 2019

Richard Lindsay "Butter" Butterfield joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was an infantry officer, serving in Vietnam. He entered active duty in 1962 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. then, at the end of his time in service, a 1st Lt., earning the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal. Upon his discharge, Butterfield returned to Montclair and then wound up in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent most of his adult life. He was laid to rest at Georgia National Cemetery on April 17, 2019.

Photo: Anne Gullord Stires




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Gary Lynn Andrews, U.S. Army

August 24, 1951 – August 14, 2019

Specialist Gary Lynn Andrews entered the U.S. Army in 1975 in Montgomery, Alabama, and left in 1982 after eight years of honorable service at Ft. Benning. The community came together to honor Andrews and pay respects the morning of Sept. 6, 2019, at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery.

Photo: WTVM




21 Homeless Veteran Burials

Ronald Baker Thomas, U.S. Army

Jan. 3, 1946 – Sept. 8, 2019

Specialist Ronald Baker Thomas joined the U.S. Army in 1966 during the Vietnam Era and was honorably discharged three years later, receiving a National Defense Service Metal. An extensive investigation by the county coroner’s office concluded that SP4 Thomas did not have any family. He was laid to rest with full military honors on Oct. 11, 2019, at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.

Photo: Gray Media Group



Cremation Garden at Memorial Park Cemetery

Homeless Veterans Burial Program

Since 2000, the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program has buried over 3,000 unclaimed veterans with full military honors.

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Soldier holding folded American flag

Military Funeral Honors

Military funeral honors are a dignified ceremony and final demonstration of deep gratitude to those who have faithfully defended our country.

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Military Funeral Honors are performed in front of the Armed Forces flags.

VA Death Benefits

If you are planning a funeral service for a veteran, it’s important to be aware of the VA burial benefits that may be available.

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