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Missing in America Project puts unclaimed Montana veterans to rest

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:31:57 AM MDT
Updated On: Jul 25 2014 06:58:00 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The remains of seven veterans, some unclaimed for more than a decade, are on their way to their final resting place.  

The Missing in America Project (MIAP) works to locate, identify and lay to rest unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans. The organization says remains can go unclaimed for a number of reasons, from homelessness and financial reasons to family disputes.

To date, the program has identified 2,287 remains in funeral homes around the country, and buried 2,056.

Dozens of veterans met at the Dokken-Nelson Funeral Home in Bozeman on Friday to escort seven unclaimed fallen veterans to Billings to have a proper burial.

"These soldiers are veterans and deserve the same thing we do," explained veteran Don Murdock.

Marty Malone, the state coordinator for Montana's Missing in America Program chapter, led the service.

"Every veteran was promised to be taken care of," Malone said. "They were promised not to be forgotten, and I think sitting on a shelf in a funeral home is probably the epitome of being forgotten."

Each man's ashes were displayed with a folded American flag.

"They deserve to come home and rest," said veteran Danny Glover, who rode from Billings to see the ceremony.

Veteran riders from all across Montana participated in the procession. They explained they feel called to take care of their fellow soldiers.

"These people have been sitting in an urn in funeral homes all over the nation for decades and decades," Murdock said, "and it's nice to finally get them proper respect they're due."

As the ceremony closed, the remains, handled with care, were placed into a motorcycle. Then the motorcycles pulled out, taking their fellow soldiers to their final resting place.

The remains will be laid to rest with full military honors.

The Missing in America Project explained remains of more unclaimed veterans are be in funeral homes across the state and country, and they and won't stop until they know they have found them all.