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"...what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it

A Vietnam Veteran died in December 2016.  It’s nothing unusual for people to die, but when a veteran dies without any living family, it is quite sad, even heart-wrenching.  Yet, teens from Long Beach, Mississippi took time out of their busy schedules to be pallbearers for Jerry Wayne Pino, who died at the age of 70 on December 12.

Pino, a Baton Rouge man, served his country in Vietnam after joining the military in 1970.  After leaving the military as a petty officer third class, he lived on the Coast.

Though he had set his service in order prior to his death, desiring to be buried at Biloxi National Cemetery, he didn’t have pallbearers.

Cathy Warden, who works at Riemann Family Funeral Homes, was taking care of the services for Pino.

“He was an unclaimed veteran,” said Warden. “Eva Boomer, who also works at Riemann’s, is a veteran, too. She asked me, ‘Do you think we could get Bryce and some upperclassmen to come out?’ ”

Bryce is Ms. Warden’s son.  However, he had already scheduled to be out of town on the day of the funeral, but that didn’t deter him from seeking out his friends for their help in the matter.

He immediately began to text some of his classmates and within minutes, he had six young men respond that they would help with the funeral as pallbearers.

“Bryce sent the text and asked them to wear khaki pants, shirts and ties. ‘Let’s do this!’ he told his classmates. Almost immediately, they said yes,” Warden said.

Four of the young men were part of the school football team.  JT Tripp, Bailey Griffin, Joseph Ebberman, Jake Strong, Kenny McNutt and James Kneiss all honored Pino as pallbearers at his funeral.

“This morning, JT and fellow Bearcats will be pallbearers at a veteran’s funeral service. Proud mom when he told me that no one should be buried without people who care present, especially a veteran,” wrote Stacie Tripp, mother of JT, on Facebook. “Exposure to patriotism and respect comes from the home, schools and community. Proud of all these boys!”

CJ Poltack commented on a memorial page for Pino, “I am so proud of the Long Beach High School men who helped put Mr. Pino to rest. I see from their school website they had a Veteran speaker at their school on September 7th. Perhaps that speech to the student body said much more to those individuals than we could have imagined. Thank you Long Beach High School.”

“It doesn’t cost anything to take some time to do something like this,” said Warden.  “If our young people can figure this out, our country is going in the right direction.”

The Sun Herald added:

The Navy provided the honor guards, who folded the American flag that draped Pino’s casket and presented it to Jim Hudson, the funeral director for the service.

Hudson, in turn, gave the flag to the boys, four of whom are on the Long Beach football team. All six decided they would have it placed in the Bearcats’ locker room. Warden said she would have a case made with a plaque that bears Pino’s name to display the flag.

The Daily Mail reports more good news, “Other teenagers in the US have volunteered their time to bury unclaimed veterans as well. In November, Today reported that a group of high school students in Michigan also served as pallbearers to homeless veterans.  More than 50 students at Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy are trained as pallbearers.”

Though I despise the Vietnam War, I am grateful to men like Mr. Pino, who are willing to serve.  Even more, I’m hopeful in seeing young men like these who are coming up in this generation.  Let’s continue to encourage more of them!

Me Here......Karen and myself are working on a similar situation.  I suddenly lost contact with a dear friend back in November.  It wasn't until Early February that we learned with the help of another new friend that we were able to learn that he died in early November.  He was working a contract job outside of his home state.

He had no kids, an ex-wife, no known siblings.  He and I were at Air Force Basic Training and Griffiss AFB at the same time.  We didn't knowingly meet at either.  It was in the 1990s that we finally met through a mutual interest in trains.  We became fast friends.

We have learned he died without a will or trust.  He owned a home and in the basement has an extensive Lionel model railroad he so enjoyed.  He was buried as an unclaimed body in the state he was working.  He is a Veteran.  So that was so wrong.

I still wonder if the authority's even tried to locate family and friends.  If they had checked his cell phone, they would have found me trying and trying to call him.  If the had checked his facebook page, they would have found others that cared.  Why didn't this happen?  A great, but so far unanswered question. 

Did the authority's bother to check to see if he was a Veteran?  Did he receive a proper Veteran's funeral with the honors he had earned?  Both are to date unanswered.

Right now we are working to become administrators for his estate.  I have gotten help from my American Legion in locating a lawyer in his hometown that is helping us.

Right now as far as I know we are waiting for a Death Certificate from where he died.  Once we have this, the lawyer can start the probate process.  This would have been much easier if there was a will or trust.

This will be a long hard battle to fight the government that is set to claim his entire estate.  We are going to try to have his estate divided between veteran and railroad non-profits.  This is a better use and more reflective of our friend.

I will from time to time keep you all posted on this battle.

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Comment by Karen Damvelt on March 11, 2017 at 9:46pm

People Should Also Reach Out to American Legion Posts and VFW Posts for Help In These Type of Situations.


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