Nevada Veterans Coalition honors 7 veterans | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Veterans Coalition honors 7 veterans

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus

FERNLEY — With each passing military service, the number of people in attendance not only come as mourning residents but also as "family" to pay their final respects to forgotten veterans.

Friday emphasized the tight bond of family at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley with Nevada Veterans Coalition honoring seven veterans whose remains have been in the care of a local mortuary but remained unclaimed. This is the ninth service the NVC has conducted.

"We're here as family to give final honors to our veterans," said Tom Draughon, who serves as NVC's spokesman and also presided over the hour-long ceremony. "We will not stop doing what we're doing until every forgotten veteran in Nevada receives the final honors they deserve."

Draughon emphasized through his remarks that every monument with a veteran's name tells a story of selfless sacrifice and service.

Hundreds of veterans, though, still await their proper military service at the NNVMC. The NVC said Walton's Funerals and Cremations provides a database with names, the National Personnel Records Center's researchers examine thousands of files and NVC members volunteer to provide a final ceremony for the veterans.

"We've been able to locate several hundred veterans who gave so much to their country," Draughon said.

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As of Friday, 87 veterans have been honored.

Fernley Mayor Roy Edgington, praised the NNVMC as a very special resting place.

"My father is buried here … this is where I'll be buried," said Edgington, who served in the U.S. Air Force. "It's hallowed ground."

Tracy Sears, a constituent service representative who handles military issues for Congressman Mark Amodei, said the cemetery also holds a special place in her heart and serves as a final resting place for those who serve their county.

"This cemetery is absolutely sacred ground," she said, adding her mother and uncle are interred at the 45-acre cemetery midway between Reno and Fallon.

Eric Grimes, a Navy veteran and cemetery superintendent, said each ceremony for veterans whose remains went unclaimed grows in importance. The service with a three-volley salute, the playing of "Taps," a flag-folding ceremony and presentation, and a procession to the final resting place treats each veteran with dignity.

"We made a promise to our veterans," Grimes said. "We would not forget them."

Grimes also told the assembled crowd of more than 100 people that the first ceremony to remember forgotten veterans is slated for June at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Lynda Freeman, chairwoman of Missing in Nevada, who has spent countless hours with this project, read the seven names of the veterans and a shot background for each.

Friday's ceremony in Fernley ended differently, however, from previous services. Bagpiper and Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil led the procession south of the pavilion, past the Patriot Guard Riders with their American flags in an upright position and then to the cemetery's eastern edge where the seven veterans were interred.

Next month's ceremony on May 11 will honor 10 veterans whose remains have been identified. As with September's service, a procession will bring the remains from Sparks to NNVMC.

Veterans honored on Friday included the following with their lifespan, branch of service, time served and wars fought:

John Barker, (1953-2009), U.S. Army, 1971-1974, Vietnam.

James Morris, (1922-2005), U.S. Army, 1943-1953, WWII/Korea.

Harland Osmus, (1927-2003), U.S. Army Air Force, 1945-1947, WWII.

Jay Peck, (1907-1982), U.S. Army, 1943-1945, WWII.

Gene Radcliffe ,(1930-1997), U.S. Navy, 1948-1950, Cold War.

Steven Rockelman, (1946-2008), U.S. Army, 1964-1967, Vietnam.

Richard Sarver, (1925-1975), U.S. Army, 1944-1945, WWII.