BLUFFDALE — Nineteen veterans whose remains are still unclaimed by any family were honored Saturday by the Missing in America Project (MIAP) with a military funeral.
One by one, each box and an American flag were taken out of a hearse and taken into a chapel where their names were read out loud. The service also included a gun salute and a bugler playing taps.
“The least we can do is guarantee these veterans get their final honors,” said Roger Graves, MIAP’s Utah chapter coordinator.
MIAP’s goal is to find the remains of veterans in mortuaries and properly bury them. Saturday’s veteran funeral service at the Utah Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery was MIAP’s sixth mission in Utah.
Often, mortuaries hold the cremated remains of people who aren’t claimed. While it takes a lot of research and time, Graves said there is no better feeling than finding a veteran.
“When you know you have a veteran who could have easily been forgotten, it means everything,” he said.
In 2017, MIAP located nineteen veterans across Utah. The longest on-the-shelf veteran had been there for 37 years, Graves said.
Three veterans whose remains have been reunited with their families were also honored during the ceremony.
Lori Irish traveled to Utah from Arizona to be part of the ceremony. Her brother, William Edward Guessford, is a Vietnam veteran who died in 2016 and was honored Saturday.
“You know, I’m glad the veterans aren’t forgotten,” Irish said.
The cemetery includes a section for the veterans with a headstone where the words “Never Forgotten” are chiseled into the stone. It includes the veterans found this year, making the total 99 buried in the cemetery.
“I can’t explain how good it feels to finally be able to bring that person back into the family,” Graves said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll get there.”
Veterans honored today:
- Michael Ray Carbuhn (1945-2016) US Army, 1973-1977, 1977-1980, 1981-1988, Vietnam
- Robert Randolph Coons (1951-2016) US Marine Corps, 1972-1974, Vietnam
- Joel P. Driver, Jr. (1927-2016) US Navy, 1944-1946, WWII
- Barry Dee Montgomery (1942-2013) US Army, 1959-1961, Korea
- William Alan Nash (1934-2016) US Army, 1954-1956, Korea
- Robert Morris Parker, Jr. (1946-2016) US Marine Corps, 1964-1969, Vietnam
- Robert Claude Rogan (1925-2015) US Navy, 1943-1945, WWII
- Clifford Andrew Christiansen (1927-2005) US Army, 1946-1947, WWII
- Ronald Edward Craig (1946-2007) US Army, 1963-1964, Peace Time
- Willard Thurlow Douglas (1907-1980) US Army Reserves, 1942-1946, WWII
- Albert Carl Elkins (1913-2002) US Army, 1943, WWII
- Alfonso Gutierrez (1918-2007) US Army, 1942-1943, WWII
- Kenneth Edward Kirk (1945-2004) US Army, 1962-1963, Peace Time
- Robert Ray Milford (1929-2004) US Army, 1950-1952, Korea
- Clayton Nourse (1916-2001) US Army Air Corps, 1943-1946, WWII
- Robert Frank Rugg (1926-204) US Marine Corps, 1943-1946, WWII
- Douglas Lloyd Taylor, (1947-2005) US Navy, 1966-1970, Vietnam
- Kenneth Charles Younce (1959-2000) US Army, 1990-1991, Persian Gulf
- Elmer A. Montgomery (1917-1988) US Army, 1946-1948, WWII
Veterans reunited with friends or families:
- William Edward Guessford (1946-2016) US Army, 1967-1969, Vietnam
- William Howard Guy (1943-2017) US Army, 1967-1969, Vietnam
- Richard Andrew Varela (1964-1994) US Marine Corps, 1982-1986, Peace Time