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VIDEO: Huge crowd shows up to give unclaimed veteran an honorable burial

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Derek Smiling, 20th Security Force Squadron flight sergeant, holds a U.S. flag prior to a National Police Week opening ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 14, 2018. The flag was flown throughout the week in honor of military and civilian police who lost their lives in the line of duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)
September 22, 2019

Gateway Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Clarksville, Tenn. had posted a request on Facebook asking people to attend the funeral for an unclaimed U.S. Air Force veteran — and the response was overwhelming.

The funeral home had searched for family or friends of Staff Sgt. Lyndon Badgett but found none that were able to attend, prompting a public request that yielded a huge turnout at the Middle Tennessee State Veteran Cemetery in Nashville, Tenn. on Thursday.

Gateway Funeral Home Director Wade Winkler said, “It’s a sad thing when folks pass away and there’s no one around and no one that cares for them.”

Gateway Funeral Home paid for all the funeral expenses and Badgett was given military honors provided by the U.S. Air Force and the Patriot Guard.

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The funeral home said, “While we do not know the story behind this individual or the events that brought him to this ending of his life, we do know that he served his country and he deserves an honorable burial.”

According to his obituary, “SSGT Lyndon Burl Badgett, age 57, of Clarksville TN passed away on Friday, August 30, 2019 at Tennova Healthcare.”

While in the Air Force, Badgett received many awards including NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 2 devices, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 devices, Air Force Overseas short tour ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and Humanitarian service medal. received many awards including NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 2 devices, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 devices, Air Force Overseas short tour ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and Humanitarian service medal.

Badgett served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve from 1981 to 1997.

Army veteran Arther Jester said, “I’m surprised by the big turnout. I wasn’t expecting this. It surprised us when we saw all those cars and the flag at half-mast,” NBC News 4 reported.

Army veteran Richard Austin said, “I don’t even know how long he was in.”

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Jester replied, “I think he was in about 12 years.”

Austin, Jester, and Badgett all shared the same veteran nursing home.

“He was in room 404, and I was in room 405,” Austin said.

The two agreed that Badgett loved to conversate, especially about NASCAR and another special story that made Austin and Jester crack up every time they heard it.

“He saw Bigfoot,” said Jester.

Austin said, “Yeah, Sasquatch. He saw him. That’s what he said.”