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8 veterans’ unclaimed cremains to be buried with honors in CT on Friday – public invited

Veterans salute urns holding the ashes of four Connecticut veterans whose unclaimed remains were located and identified by the Missing in America Project. (Cloe Poisson/ Hartford Courant/TNS)

Remains of eight veterans who were forgotten or abandoned in Connecticut funeral homes, some for decades, are to be buried with full military honors Friday, Oct. 1.

The public is invited to the ceremony honoring the World War I, World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans at 10:30 a.m., rain or shine, at the Connecticut State Veterans Cemetery, 317 Bow Lane, Middletown, Conn.

The veterans’ cremated remains sat on funeral home shelves, unclaimed by any family members. Funeral directors are not bound to keep ashes after trying to find someone to take possession, but many do anyway.

“While these eight veterans passed without family or friends to honor them,” state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas J. Saadi said Tuesday, “they are no longer forgotten.”

In 2008, then-veterans Commissioner Linda Schwartz joined the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association and the state chapter of the Missing in America Project to identify veterans’ remains. At the time, the Missing in America Project had helped locate, identify and inter the ashes of more than 100 veterans nationwide.

Ceremonial burials for the remains of such honorably discharged veterans started in Connecticut in 2009. The ceremony was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the remains of four veterans — one from the Spanish American War, one from World War I and two from World War II — were buried.

“This is a code of honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs and our statewide veteran service organizations adhere to,” Saadi said, “and I thank the CT Funeral Directors Association and their members for continuing the partnership to bring these once forgotten departed veterans to the hallowed grounds of our State Veterans Cemetery to be interred with their brothers and sisters in arms and ensure they are forgotten no longer.”

Funeral directors association spokeswoman Laura Soll said no family members have come forward after previous burials or due to publicity surrounding the ceremonies.

The veterans to be interred Friday are:

  • Victor Herbert Anderson, U.S. Marines/Korean War, Aug. 4, 1933-Nov. 1, 2018, died in Seymour.
  • Orville K. Davis, U.S. Army/World War II, May 10, 1923-Nov. 5, 1993, died in Southington.
  • Stephen Yoder Forrester, U.S. Army/Vietnam War, Feb. 7, 1946-Nov. 29, 1972, died in Branford.
  • Joseph P. Galipeau, U.S. Army/World War II, March 23, 1929-Oct. 29, 2001, died in Southington.
  • Lawrence W. Jordan, U.S. Army/World War I, Oct. 10, 1898-Aug. 5, 1976, died in Branford.
  • Bernard Joseph Lafleur, U.S. Navy/World War II, Nov. 30, 1925-March 17, 2007, died in Southington.
  • George Dalton Parker, U.S. Navy/World War II, Oct. 30, 1916-Sept. 10, 1984, died in Hartford.
  • Lawrence Earl Tefft, U.S. Navy/World War II, July 14, 1927-Feb. 9, 1998, died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Tefft’s home at the time was in Connecticut).

Four hearses carrying the veterans’ remains are to leave the DVA’s Rocky Hill campus at 9:40 a.m., escorted by police and Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders. At the cemetery, Saadi is to lead the ceremony, supported by funeral home directors from across the state. The ceremony also is to include posthumous presentation of Connecticut Wartime Service Medals. Masks are strongly encouraged.

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