Fernley ceremony honors 15 servicemen from World War I to Vietnam
February 13, 2018
FERNLEY — As each of the 15 veterans' names were read, many in attendance at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery looked stoically ahead, while others dabbed away tears.
The veterans remembered Friday at the NNVMC went unnoticed for decades, their remains sitting on a shelf in a funeral home. The Nevada Veterans Coalition honored the servicemen beginning with three who fought in World War I and ending with four men who served in Vietnam.
"I can't think of how so many remains were left unattended," said Tom Draughon, NVC's spokesman who also served as moderator. "They were born as early as 1890 and as late as 1942."
Draughon told more than 100 guests and volunteers that it's essential the country never forget its veterans and important for the 15 that they have a formal ceremony to recognize their service to the United States. He said it's a special day when the community remembers those who wore the uniform either in peacetime or during war, and that the NNVMC is a more appropriate home for their remains than being forgotten on a shelf.
Jack Silva, who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam, said veterans and the community attended the ceremony to show they cared for patriots.
"We're passing them on to a better place," said Silva, who volunteered to carry an urn.
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Guest speakers offered their praise for the forgotten servicemen.
Fred Wagar, deputy director of Programs and Services with the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, echoed Draughon's comments and said Americans should never forget their veterans. Glenna Smith, an outreach coordinator with Sen. Dean Heller's office, agreed with Draughon and said the project to remember forgotten veterans relies on the efforts of the coalition, volunteers and funeral homes.
"They were willing to lay down their lives for country and for each one of our lives, our children and our grandchildren," she said.
Roger Elliott of Fallon, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, attends the monthly ceremony to remember forgotten veterans. He and other members of the Patriot Guards carry U.S. flags to show both their solidarity and respect.
"When I carry my flag, I carry it with honor," Elliott said.
Draughon said the Patriot Guard volunteers their time and spends their own funds to attend the NNVMC ceremonies.
"They're out here for us and with us for our veterans," he added.
In order to conduct a ceremony of this magnitude, the NVC said Walton's Funerals and Cremations provides a database from which to glean names, the National Personnel Records Center's researchers comb through thousands of files and NVC members volunteer countless hours by providing a final ceremony for the veterans.
The ceremony ended when Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil led a procession carrying 15 urns to the columbarium where the men were recognized by name and branch of service and then placed in their final home overlooking the cemetery's grounds. The servicemen included the following:
Donald Brewster (1925-2005), U.S. Navy 1943-1946, WWII.
Charles Depeu (1921-1990), U.S. Army 1942-1945, WWII.
Marvin Engel (1942 – 2008), U.S. Army 1964-1967, Vietnam.
Ernest Fairchild (1897-1977), U.S. Army 1917-1919, WWI.
Jay Finchum (1941-2008), U.S. Air Force 1959-1965, Vietnam.
Oscar Fry (1890-1976), U.S. Army 1919-1920, post-WWI.
Howard Fuller (1927-1996), U.S. Navy/U.S. Army 1945-1950, WWII.
Ralph Gawthrop (1927-1992), U.S. Marine Corps/U.S.A.F. 1946-1974, WWII/Korea/Vietnam.
James Glennie (1925-1996), U.S.A.F. 1964-1974, Vietnam.
James Grove (1924 – 1994), U.S. Army 1942 – 1945, WWII.
Clyde Gunter (1897-1977), U.S. Army 1918-1919, WWI.
William Javorsky (1922-1977), U.S. Navy 1942-1946, WWII.
Richard Jaworski (1925-1992), U.S. Army 1945–1947, WWII.
John Kearney (1920-1987), U.S. Navy/U.S.A.F./USAF 1943-1973, WWII/Korea/Vietnam.
Jack Keopp (1923-1974), U.S. Army Air Corps 1943-1947, WWII.