Many people have fought tooth and nail to serve their country. As is custom, American veterans who pass away are given an honorary funeral service, with the drums, known as “taps,” and the folding of the flag, firing of triple volleys. When a veteran dies and they have no friends or family to claim them, the government will ensure they still get an appropriate burial. Ralph Lambert was one unclaimed soldier who recently passed. When the local High School basketball coach, Jordan Marks got word of this, he made sure that the late serviceman would not be laid to rest alone.
High School Students Carry Veteran’s Casket
Retired Air Force veteran, Ralph Lambert, passed away on February 8th, 2022 at the age of 94. He served in the United States Air Force from 1950 to 1971. He was one of the many unclaimed soldiers who had no friends or family to participate in his funeral. This would mean that the Air Force would facilitate the funeral, but that’s when Jordan Marks stepped in and chose six of his basketball players to do the honors of carrying Ralph’s casket.
“I picked the six seniors we have,” said Marks. “I try to teach them the game of baseball but also the game of life, and anytime we can serve a community member or especially somebody that served for our country, we are more than happy to do it.”
Without these compassionate students, Ralph’s funeral would have been less meaningful. Nevertheless, it usually includes a colored guard, soldiers playing the ‘taps’, a rifle detail, and the folding and presenting of the burial flag. Ralph would have had the funeral, but no witnesses to send him off appropriately.
Read: Police Officer Valiantly Saves Tiny Baby Girl – Twenty Years Later, He Is Guest of Honor At Her Wedding
“It was an honor for us”
None of the kids had met Ralph before he passed but all were eager to do their part for a man who served their country so bravely. Each of them was a part of the basketball team for Maynard High school, as well as being senior. Their names were Jacob Giordano, Ashton Brodnax, Ashton Veade, Hunter Foster, Cameron Kinder, and Jackson Ford. They came through for Ralph when she had no one else in the world to send him off. They picked up his casket, which had the American flag draped over it, and they carried it to his resting place.
“I felt sorry, and I just am glad that we got the opportunity to go out there,” said Kinder. “We all have our family and friends, but I think we fail to realize that somebody out there doesn’t have that.” Giordano said: It was an honor for us, seniors, to be able to go out there, especially with somebody with no family and friends.”
Unclaimed Veteran Soldiers are Surprisingly Common
Ralph was buried as part of a collective funeral. 13 other veterans were laid to rest on the same day, and all of them were unclaimed like Raph Lambert.
Director of the “Missing in America Project,” Linda Smith, said: “They’re estranged from their family. They die alone. Veterans commit suicide. They don’t have anyone to mourn them — that’s what we do. The number is huge. It’s really sad.” So, the project facilitates the funerals of unclaimed soldiers, doing their part in providing the burial that they deserve.
Many of the veterans are soldiers who served during the Vietnam war. According to the Washington Post, an investigation was carried out to determine the number of unclaimed veterans. What was realized, was that local governments are not obligated or required to report any bodies that are unclaimed to national authorities, even if they are veterans. This means that there could be a far greater amount of unclaimed veterans than the statistics provided.
Of those bodies that were accounted for, there were thousands. There are about ten veteran’s’ cemeteries across the nation, and last year there were 1752 veterans who were left unclaimed to be buried. They were given the right funeral that a soldier deserves, and we’re not alone in the end.
- “U.S. Air Force Veteran without family laid to rest by high school seniors.” KPLCTV. Dylan Domangue. February 20, 2022.
- “Unclaimed veterans laid to rest at Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery.” Arklatex Homepage. Alexandra Meachum. February 17, 2022
- “The unclaimed soldier: A final salute for the growing number of veterans who have no one to bury them.” Washington Post. Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. November 11, 2021.