Twenty-two unaccompanied Veterans were honored as they were laid to rest at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico Sept. 23.

Service members from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps who served their country and died with no friends or family to claim their remains were surrounded by members of the community during a funeral service with full military honors.

During the service, remarks were given by Cemetery Director Victor L. Vasquez and Sonya Smith, secretary of the state Department of Veterans Services.

Governor delivered eulogy

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham gave the eulogy and members of the New Mexico National Guard performed a 21-gun salute.

“My staff and I want to thank everyone in attendance today and for providing this final sendoff for these departed brothers of ours,” said Vasquez, also a Navy Veteran. “Thank you for ensuring that they were not alone and not forgotten in the end.”

The unaccompanied Veterans funeral service is held at Santa Fe National Cemetery once a year. Unclaimed Veteran remains are collected throughout the state of New Mexico and are honored at the National Cemetery with full military honors all in one ceremony.

All the Veterans’ remains had been cremated.

Forgotten Heroes Memorial Ceremony

These ceremonies would not be possible without the help of the Forgotten Hero program, Veteran Service Organizations, and local government partners. The state Department of Veterans Services has hosted an annual Forgotten Heroes Memorial Ceremony honoring unclaimed Veterans since 2009.

Santa Fe National Cemetery is a national shrine.

The 22 Veterans not to be forgotten are:

  • Stephen Anthony Atwood, Army
  • Michael Owen Crossley, Marine Corps
  • Lester Wayne Faulk, Navy
  • Bruce Allan Halterman, Army
  • Michael Ray Harriman, Army
  • Dean Ross Harris, Marine Corps
  • John Willliam Harrison, Army
  • Rocky Hunter, Navy
  • James Andrew Jaworski, Navy
  • Frederick Addison Jones, Army
  • Kerry Rodney Lee, Army
  • James Edward Marshall, Marine Corps
  • Timothy Carlos Murray, Marine Corps
  • Frederick Calhoun Pickens, Navy
  • Tony Leon Roberson
  • Wayne Charles Roundeau, Army
  • Randolph Allen Saxvold, Army
  • George Lawrence Schmith, Army
  • Felix John Stanion, Marine Cops
  • Sheldon Donald Tauber, Army
  • John Tyler, Army
  • Thomas E. Bell, Navy

The Santa Fe National Cemetery is a national shrine, which serves as a reminder of the untold histories of the Veterans who have helped preserve our nation’s freedom.

Burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and Veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements, as applicable by law and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

For more information, call 800-535-1117 or visit www.cem.va.gov.

By Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist with VA's Dallas regional office

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Published on Oct. 10, 2021

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5 Comments

  1. Russell Haney October 17, 2021 at 11:32 am

    A veterans life is never easy or simple. There are numerous reasons why these veterans died without any family or friends being by their side. Divorce, spouse died before they did, no children or they outlived their children, alcohol or drug issues, mental health issues, and the list goes on,

    But if your comment of “God’s peace be with those who have departed” is true then they did not die alone if they had found salvation in their life’s journey.

  2. Annette lawless October 17, 2021 at 2:46 am

    God speed my brothers and sisters.
    Touched by the reverent delivery to God.
    Thank you New Mexico

  3. Gloria October 16, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    Much respect to the people who honored the fallen soldiers …may they rest in peace knowing ..that people cared on their final journey..❤

  4. Brian Goldbeck October 16, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Sad to die alone having served and sacrificed for all and yet to be forgotten by so many. This veteran is so grateful some cared, did the honorable thing. Farewell fellow servicemembers.

  5. Rick Bass October 10, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Amazing to me that a country that has tremendous prosperity but the poverty of connection and caring for one another is pervasive and alarming. No one should ever die a lonely, desolate death. God’s peace be with those who have departed, served and sacrificed for their country. Thanks to those few who ensured no veteran dies alone. I suggest that the reporters of this article provide those who care about our fellow veterans with more information on the Forgotten Hero Program. Please provide more complete information on this important program (web site directory resource info).

    Thank you.

Comments are closed.

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