FORT JACKSON, S.C. (WIS) - Petty Officer Third Class James Miske died May 26 with no family to claim him or arrange his funeral.
In response, Caughman Harman Funeral Home and the Homeless Veteran Burial Program held a funeral service for Miske.
"It's something I wish we didn't have to," said William Lynch, Program Coordinator for the Homeless Veteran Burial Program. "Unfortunately, I feel like when veterans come back from serving there's so much they go through."
Lynch said this is the sixth unclaimed veteran burial in a year, but the crowd was 10 times bigger than the previous funerals.
Many attendees came from all over the Midlands to pay their respects to Miske. Lynch estimated over 500 people attended the service with 150 motorcycles taking part in the procession. Attendees said they felt obliged to come when they heard about the service. Many feel as though they are claiming the veteran by simply showing up.
"That's the least we can do is stand for them as their family,” said attendee Connie Braddock, “and make sure they get the honors they deserve."
Miske, who was in the Navy for two years, served in the Vietnam War. He died at the age of 75.