DETROIT (WWJ) – Thirteen veterans whose bodies were left unclaimed at the Wayne County morgue get a funeral with full military honors on Thursday.
The remains of one Army, two Navy, 9 Marines and one Air Force veteran were among about 200 that were unclaimed at the morgue.
State troopers accompanied a 13-hearse procession to the cemetery from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.
David Techner, funeral director for Ira Kaufman Funeral Home, was one of the directors who offering services to help bury the military veterans discovered in the morgue.
“I’ve had so many people say how sad it is that they died alone, but their country wouldn’t let them be alone,” Techner told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Mike Campbell, prior to Tuesday’s services. “And on 9-11 it’s such a spectacular tribute…I mean, when you get to the cemetery, and see what is planned for the veterans, it’s really hard to say anything except ‘God bless America.'”
Thursday’s event follows a public interfaith memorial service — organized a coalition consisting of The Jewish Fund, the Archdiocese of Detroit and area funeral homes — held in July for all 200 unnamed, unclaimed people.
The veterans were buried at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.
Members of the coalition say they have a plan for preventing another backlog of unclaimed bodies down the road.
“Contact us;” said Pat Lynch, a funeral director of Lynch and Sons Funeral Home, “either David Techner, John Desmond (of A.J.Desmond & Sons Funeral Home) or myself, or anyone in funeral service — we’re all working in this together — say we have individuals that need to be cared for, and this group of individuals will be taken care of without exception.”
According to Michigan State Police, bodies go unclaimed when family members don’t the means to pay for burial. In other cases, police say, many people with missing loved ones are apprehensive about finding out the truth.
State police, Detroit police and the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office partner twice a year to help identify missing persons – the next event will be scheduled for December. Check MSP’s website this fall for more information