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Bluffdale • Twenty veterans who died in Utah, forgotten by or estranged from family and friends, are forgotten no more.
On Saturday, their cremated remains and those of two other vets were interred at the Utah Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park in Bluffdale after a military funeral replete with a wreath-laying, rifle volleys, taps and a separate flag-folding and presentation by honor guards of the three military branches.
Some say it's sad these veterans had no one to claim them, said funeral organizer Roger Graves of Cedar City. "I beg to differ. They have all of us. ... Everyone in this chapel today is their family."
"Veterans are all brothers and sisters," said Ogden resident Dennis Howland, president of the Northern Utah chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. "They belong to us."
Some 100 veterans and friends, elected officials and representatives of military service organizations gathered in the cemetery chapel after the remains were carried by hearse from Deseret Memorial Mortuary in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City police officers and several dozen riders from Patriot Guard Riders escorted the hearse on motorcycles.
At the cemetery, pairs of soldiers, sailors and airmen took turns carrying the urns into the chapel in a solemn procession past the Patriot Guard Riders' flags. Each urn was covered in a velvet bag khaki green for the soldiers, white for the sailors and dark blue for the airmen and adorned with a name-etched dog tag on a red, white and blue ribbon.
In the chapel, the urns were placed on a table, each with a folded flag.
"There should be no veteran buried without full military honors," said Farmington resident Paula Stephenson, who served last year as the first female commander of the American Legion in Utah.
Among those in uniform Saturday was Roy resident John Cole, a Marine survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
"They are all our comrades and they've been forgotten too long," Cole said, tearing up slightly.
The funeral was organized by the Missing in America Project, which has visited nearly 1,800 funeral homes across the country in recent years, collecting the remains of veterans who outlived their families, or whose families or friends did not want the remains.
With Saturday's interment, it has buried 2,461 veterans whose ashes had been sitting on shelves in temporary urns.
It was the fifth such funeral in Utah, where 87 unclaimed veterans' remains have now been buried.
Graves, the group's Utah coordinator, estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent of the 2 million unclaimed cremated bodies in the United States are veterans.
"Our mission," he said, " … is to provide honor and respect for those who served."
Deseret Memorial Mortuary's Scott Dyer, who drove the hearse, said his funeral home did not have any of the remains of those buried Saturday, but it does have those from 20 nonveterans.
Typically, a county will pay to cremate those who die without funds. After 90 days, funeral homes can dispose of the remains in a legal manner. Dyer said Deseret typically places the temporary urns in a mausoleum.
The veterans buried Saturday served in peacetime and in wars World War II, Korean and Vietnam. The earliest birth date was in 1911 and earliest death was in 1996.
The most recent death was earlier this year: Vietnam veteran Brian Gilbert Youell. He was the brother of a Cedar City woman who, with her husband, chose to have him and her father-in-law, World War II veteran Hershel E. Hicholson Sr., interred with the "forgotten" veterans.
Graves said the Cedar City couple were unexpectedly unable to attend Saturday's funeral.
email@example.com Who was interred
The "forgotten" veterans whose remains were buried were:
David Reubin Beveridge • Navy
Adrien Robert Boileau • Army, 1956-58
Paul S. Bronson Jr. • Army, 1942-45 and 1946-58
Danny Rae Brownlee • U.S. Navy, peacetime
Woodrow Isaac Burton • Army, 1968-70
David Earl Conley • Army
John Bredley Davenport • Navy, 1963-65
Louis William Dettling • Navy, 1944-45
Robert Leroy Ele, Army • 1972-74
Joseph William Hedgbeth • Army 1946-49
Gerhart Jansen • Merchant Marine, 1943
John Mills Jeffers • Navy, 1961-64 and 1964-74
John M. Jones • Army, 1968-71 and 1974-77
Keri K. Kuehn • Army, 1972-73
Melvin Moore • Navy, 1960-62
Robert Muir • Army, 1939-60
Larry Eugene Peterson • Air Force, 1957-60
James Saxton • Navy 1958-60
Arent T. Sjursen III • Air Force, 1961-62
James Weiss • Navy, 1959-60