COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hundreds of people gathered together at Fort Jackson National Cemetery on Friday to honor an unclaimed veteran who has passed away.
Petty Officer Third Class James E. Miske served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He served for two years and then went into the Naval Reserves.
Miske lived in Columbia and passed away on May 26th. The 75-year-old was left unclaimed with no family to take care of his final arrangements.
The Caughman Harman Funeral Home arranged the funeral to make sure Miske received the honor and respect every military member deserves.
William Lynch, the chairman of the Homeless Veterans Burial Program, says this is the sixth unclaimed veteran they’ve done a funeral for since last July.
"The story is not that he went unclaimed. The story now is that he is claimed,” said Lynch. "It's amazing to me that people come to honor someone they didn't even know."
Miske received a processional to the cemetery. Many groups like the Patriot Guard Riders, the American Legion, and other funeral homes were in attendance.
Connie Braddock and Rick Byrum didn't know Miske but they know the importance of his sacrifice.
"That's the least we can do for them and stand as their family and make sure that they get the honors that they deserve," said Braddock. “As a military mom, I’m moved during Taps. I’m moved during songs.”
Byrum says it’s amazing to see how many people came to the funeral to honor Miske.
"It was just overwhelming to see the crowd. It's something we should do as a nation," said Byrum.
While Miske may have been by himself when he passed, the Midlands community made sure today he wasn't alone and people will never forget his sacrifice.
"These people need to be claimed and we claim them as our family and we stand for them and we always will," explained Braddock. “They all deserve honor and respect.”