COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - About two months ago, Air Force veteran Robert Brooks died of natural causes at the age of 89. But it wasn't until last month that his remains were found in a suitcase at a farm in Arkansas.
Now today, the veteran had a far more respectful farewell at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery.
Brooks put his life on the line during World War II as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 bomber. It was one of the most dangerous jobs during those times and one that should have gotten Brooks a tremendous amount of respect.
Instead, after his death of natural causes at his home in Johnstown, New York, Brooks was treated horribly. Authorities are holding four people in connection with a Social Security fraud scheme and a plot to sell off his possessions. These we are told were supposed to be caregivers for Brooks. One or more of them said to have been responsible for dumping his body in a suitcase on a farm in Prairie County, Arkansas.
But today was a different story as members of the motorcycle group called the Patriot Guard Riders -- military veterans themselves -- rode all the way from Arkansas to the Columbia area with the ashes of Brooks for a proper military honors service.
"It's an honor. We all hear about the Greatest Generation," Patriot Guard Rider Gerald Head said. "And it's really my honor to help bring him to his final resting place."
PFC Brooks' son, Jay, says he and the family have been deeply touched by the show of support for a man none of the Riders knew, but for whom they were willing to give up several days of their time as well as enduring the rigors of riding 750 miles or more in some cases.