A U.S. Army veteran with no surviving friends or family died in South Carolina on Sept. 8 at the age of 73, and will be buried this week with no friends or family in attendance.
Spc. Ronald Baker Thomas will be buried on Friday at Fort Jackson National Cemetery with full military honors, including a flag folding and presentation from the Army, and the public is invited to attend, ABC Columbia reported.
William Lynch, Program Director of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program said, “We want to make sure that their service in life merits their military honor funeral.”
They are inviting the community and anyone who wants to come and pay their respects to attend.
Thomas’ funeral procession will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 from Caughman-Harman Funeral Home and will be led by the Lexington Co. Sheriff’s Office, Richland Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Patriot Guard Riders. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. at Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia.
Lynch said, “Kershaw County Coroner’s Office did do an extensive investigation and were not able to find any relatives going through their records, medical records. All we really know is that he did pass away alone. He did have no family. We just want to make sure that he doesn’t have to be sent off alone.”
There is not a lot of backstory about Thomas, but what is known is that he was born Jan. 3, 1946 and joined the Army in 1966.
After his three years of service, Thomas was honorably discharged and did receive a National Defense Service Medal.
Lynch said, “He was a SP4, which is an Army Specialist, and served in the United States Army during the Vietnam Era. Served for approximately three years overseas. We’re just wanting to make sure that his service in life is honored, and that he is sent off with some sort of family.”
Lynch added, “The American Legion from Rock Hill will be there providing military honors with a seven-man volley team for the rifle salute.”
“I think that it’s a very humbling experience for people to come out and show support for someone they’ve never met. And I think it provides a lot of comradery and community,” said Lynch.