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Air Force ‘unclaimed vet’ to be buried alone Wednesday in AZ – public asked to attend

Tinker Honor Guard members regularly practice how to drape, remove and fold a flag from a casket. (Margo Wright/U.S. Air Force)
February 26, 2019

Veterans groups are asking the public to help honor the life of a late veteran who will be buried alone on Wednesday in Phoenix, Arizona.

Air Force veteran Will Melvin Shegog passed away Feb. 15 and has been declared an “unclaimed veteran” ahead of his funeral service with full military honors this week, according to Dignity Memorial, who is sponsoring the service.

Service for Shegog will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

“The public and members of the media are invited to attend the burial in support of Mr. Shegog’s service to the nation,” Dignity Memorial stated.

Shegog, an Illinois native, served in the U.S. Air Force between June 1978 and September 1979, and later relocated to the Phoenix area.

A funeral procession is planned from A.L. Moore-Grimshaw Mortuary to the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, which will include the Patriot Guard Riders, a nonprofit group of motorcycle enthusiasts who attend veteran funerals to pay their respects and shield the service from potential disruptions.

Shegog’s services are sponsored by a program dedicated to ensuring full military honors for veterans who wouldn’t be recognized otherwise.

“The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is a cooperative effort designed to ensure that veterans who are homeless, indigent, and have no family receive the honors in death that their service in life merited,” said David Hinton of Dignity Memorial. “We’re honored to assist in giving Mr. Shegog the dignified military services he deserves.”

Unclaimed veteran services are all too frequent, yet statistics are nearly impossible to find.

Another unaccompanied veteran will be also be laid to rest on Wednesday in Killeen, Texas.

Authorities did not discover any next of kin to notify in the death of U.S. Army Spc. Hugh Gary Bryan. Services for Bryan will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 11:00 a.m. at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas.

Marine Corps veteran Jerry Gray, 67, was an unclaimed veteran who was laid to rest on Monday at the Mountain Home National Cemetery in Tennessee, according to Johnson City Press.

Air Force veteran Joseph Walker was another unaccompanied veteran who passed away in January at age 72.

When word got around of Gray and Walker’s unaccompanied status – with no one expected to attend their funerals – the public showed up in the hundreds to pay their respects.

Veteran groups are hopeful that a similar response can be garnered to pay respects for Shegog and Bryan this week.