The unclaimed cremains of five military veterans have been buried with full honors at a national cemetery in southwestern Michigan.
The cremains, which had gone unclaimed in a morgue for months, were buried Thursday amid folded flags, the playing of the “Taps” bugle call, a color guard and a rifle detail at Fort Custer National Cemetery outside Battle Creek.
“We are considered to be their next of kin,” said Michelle Fox, chief investigator for the Medical Examiner’s Office at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
One ceremony was held for four Navy veterans: 65-year-old Seaman Apprentice Walter Lee Warden, 72-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Arthur Thomas, 61-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Alan Hurst and 84-year-old Seaman Mervin William Timon.
A separate service was held for 74-year-old Army Spc. 5 Larry Duane Heins.
Warden died in October 2021 of injuries related to a fall. The others all died of natural causes between December 2021 and April.
“It is an honor as the Medical Examiner’s Office to continue serving those who have served. They gave their time, their energy, almost their lives when they were overseas, to give us the freedoms that they have. This is something amazing that we’re able to give back to them and give them a dignified burial,” Fox said.