JENNINGS, La. — The bodies of six unclaimed veterans were buried Thursday following an appreciation ceremony held in Southwest Louisiana.
“We owe the men and women who have served our country a debt of gratitude, and that includes a burial with dignity,” Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Joey Strickland said. “These veterans do not have any relatives; however, we as a community will stand in the gap to honor them at their final resting place.”
The six veterans who were laid to rest are:
— Pvt. Darryl A. Lowry, who served from 1977 to 1980 in the U.S. Army
— Specialist 4 James Cecil Osborne, who served from 1968 to 1971 in the U.S. Army
— Sgt. Edward Lee Hall, who served from 1971 to 1977 in the U.S. Army
— Cpl. Alton Eugene Caudle, who served from 1971 to 1975 in the U.S. Marine Corps.
— Seaman Recruit Steve Edward Bihlmire, who served in 1961 in the U.S. Navy
— Petty Officer Third Class Dean Ira Hurst, who served from 1973 to 1976 in the U.S. Navy
Strickland said the cemetery staff, in partnership with the St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office and the department's veterans assistance counselors, worked to locate the veterans' families but none was found.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office and other St. Mary Parish agencies escorted the veterans from Morgan City to Jennings where they were interred.
“It is because of veterans that we enjoy the freedoms of today,” said Sheriff Blaise Smith. “Those serving now are assuring that those freedoms will not be taken away.”
The ceremony was rescheduled from Tuesday due to inclement weather.