Four veterans remembered for their service at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
LVN Editor Emeritus
Four veterans representing three military services were honored Friday at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley.
While most monthly memorial services are conducted for veterans whose remains are unaccompanied by either family or friends, that wasn’t the case for a soldier and sailor.
The family of Army Spec. 4 Larry Bonagofsky attended the ceremony at the NNVMC as did a friend of Navy fireman BTFN Ramon York. Two other servicemen, United States Marine Sgt. David Cruz and Army Pvt. First Class Jerry Emblen, were interred in the columbarium several weeks ago but were also remembered during Friday’s short ceremony held against the backdrop of storm clouds and blustery winds.
“My dad was a very loving and caring father,” said daughter Kimberly Dimino, whose father died in Vancouver, Wash., in 1999 with his family by his side. “He loved to camp, he liked to fish. He lived a very good life.”
Bonagofsky enlisted in the U.S. Army and left service as a specialist. Dimino said she doesn’t know much about her father’s service including the years he served.
With the military honors afforded to her father on Friday, she said the service has brought closure to the family. Also attending were her sister, Karen Vesik, and brother, James, both of Fernley. Dimino’s husband, Charles, was in Las Vegas attending to his father, who had been admitted to the intensive care unit of a Southern Nevada hospital.
“We weren’t sure where we should bury my dad, but we came out to the wreath ceremony (in December),” Dimino.
After seeing the cemetery, the manicured lawns and respect given to veterans, Dimino’s family decided the NNVMC should be their father’s final resting place, a site to give them closure.
“Now, we can come see him,” she said. “He is not alone here.”
Ray Comer accepted the United States flag on behalf of his neighbor. York, who was believed to be in his early 80s, recently died. Comer said York was a disabled veteran who moved in across the street 10 years ago.
“He was a little bit older than I was, but I didn’t know what year he was born,” he said.
Comer was honored to be at the service.
“His daughter and family are here in spirit, but they live back east,” said Comer, who served in the U.S. Army from 1965-68.
During the ceremony, an honor guard formed by the Patriot Guard carried U.S. flags to the main pavilion. The Nevada Veterans Coalition conducts unaccompanied services, and then the remains of the veterans are interred at the columbarium on the cemetery’s north side.
The ceremony also included a gun salute, the playing of “Taps” and Tom Draughon of the NVC singing “Amazing Grace.”
The number of people attending the services has grown over the years, said Brett Palmer, commander of the NVC honor guard.
“When we started, we had very few people here. Now, 30 to 40 people are part of the extended family,” he said, noting how community members now attend the services to pay their respects.
Sharon Serenko of the NVC narrated the ceremony, saying veterans deserve closure to their lives. For one reason or another, young veterans left home to enlist, but many never returned; instead, she said they moved elsewhere after their military service.
“We honor veterans for their service to their nation,” Serenko said. “Families chose to say their goodbyes in their own ways. This hallowed place is just the final place for the storage of their final remains.
Serenko said NNVMC’s hallowed grounds remember the lives of veterans and every monument tells a story of their service.
The next service with full military honors is for Feb. 9 for 15 veterans whose remains have been in the care of a local funeral home but remained unclaimed. This is NVC’s seventh ceremony to honor veterans whose service ranged from World War I to the Vietnam War.