FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Four local veterans who were homeless and without next of kin will be honored Wednesday (Dec. 11) at the Fayetteville National Cemetery.
All four veterans died a few months go, but no relatives could be found to help plan a proper service.
“We have the opportunity to give these veterans a final appreciation even if they didn’t feel like they had that opportunity any other time or place for part of their life," said Joshua Medina with the Washington County Veterans Services.
Last summer, the Washington County Coroner reached out to Medina and the National Cemetery to see if any bodies found were those of veterans.
After some research, officials learned of four veterans, three served in Vietnam and one in the Persian Gulf.
- US Navy, PO2 Walter Vanhorn, Persian Gulf
- US Navy, SA William T Wilkes, Vietnam
- US Airforce, SSGT Victor Liljo, Vietnam
- US Airforce, AMN James Fortney, Vietnam
“It’s important, and I’m glad to know that there are people that want to reach out and to make sure they take care of our veterans,” said Skip Solomon, who works at the Fayetteville National Cemetery.
After months of searching and planning. No relatives were found, but a service fit for a hero was planned.
“We’ll have the Patriot Guard and will be escorting them from the coroner's office to the cemetery, and we have the American Legion to provide honors and the VA Chaplain who is here to preside over the ceremony,” said Solomon.
Solomon is a veteran himself.
“It’s a benefit that we’ve all earned once you’ve been honorably discharged after your service, and it’s important for these veterans, especially because they’re unclaimed, and there’s no family there to come over and try to make these arrangements for them, and so we want to make these arrangements for them," said Solomon.
Medina says he is proud to honor these heroes and expects fellow veterans to make a big turn out.
“Anyone who served, who served you and me and was willing to take any kind of a sacrifice for us and it’s a minimum sacrifice that we can do to do something like this the honor of having people there in their final moments,” said Medina.
The service at the Fayetteville National Cemetery will start at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11 and everyone is welcome to attend.