Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Burying a hero: that's the goal of the the Missing in America Project.
It's a national program that locates, identifies, and inters the unclaimed cremated remains of our American veterans. Beginning in 2006, the program has helped buried almost two thousand unclaimed soldiers around the country.
"Every soldier that serves this country honorably, faithfully, deserves this honor. What this is called is rendering final honors for a fallen soldier. For a veteran that was unclaimed," said Steve Goulet with the American Legion.
While he may have no family here at Fort Jackson National Cemetary, Private Donald Tatro is surrounded by those who say they're his brothers and sisters.
"He served in the army from 1948-1952," said Goulet.
Four and half years ago, Private Tatro died in an apartment fire in Gaffney. Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler says Tatro had no next of kin.
"It was my responsibility as my job as coroner to take care of his remains, by such we cremated him," said Fowler.
"Today, all of us out here are Private Tatro's family. We are his family."
That's when Steve Goulet contacted the South Carolina Coroner's association on behalf of missing in America, in search of unclaimed veterans.
"I think his family would be very proud. I think they would also understand that all servicemen should be buried with honor and dignity and respect," said Goulet.
Carolyn Hamilton has two brothers that fought in vietnam. She says the motorcade procession and service is bittersweet.
"It's been very rewarding seeing all the people take time out of their day to give this man a proper burial," said Hamilton.
Fallen but not forgotten, this group wants others to know, the service of Private Tatro does not go without recognition.
"I'm sure right now Private Tatro is looking down on this thinking this is great even and he's really proud of himself," said Goulet.
Those with the missing in America project say they are looking to find more remains unclaimed veterans. They say they are reaching out to funeral homes and coroner's offices. You can contact them by going to their website http://www.miap.us/