Airman apprentice Donald Brown and fireman David Dickson, both United States Navy veterans who served during the Vietnam war died recently and neither had a family member to claim their remains. On Tuesday, Beaufort National Cemetery and the military community stepped in to ensure both were honored for their service and received a final salute prior to their burial, which was attended by the public and military-related groups.
Michael Brophy, Beaufort National Cemetery Assistant Director, confirmed that both veterans, while their remains were unclaimed, were eligible to be buried on Beaufort’s hallowed ground. “Now all that means is that when they passed, there wasn’t any family available to claim them,” he affirmed. “Sometimes, at the end of the road, some people don’t have a support network built around them,” he continued. “But there is a community that looks to ensure that they get the benefits that they earned so many years ago.” he added, “unclaimed doesn’t mean unloved.”
The two veterans were patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Charleston and, after their passing, officials arranged for the two sailors to be cremated and transported south to Beaufort National Cemetery, escorted by members of the South Carolina Patriot Guard Riders.
Additionally, the two veterans were honored with the symbolic Forget Me Not ceremony. Leading the 100-year old traditional ceremony, which originated during World War I, was Karen Majerczak, Commander of the Disabled Americans Veterans Chapter 12 in Beaufort. “As they saw the new growth of the flowers on the battlefield, it brought about hope for everlasting life and reminded us that people may be gone but not erased or forgotten,” she explained.
The Navy Honor Guard out of Beaufort Naval Hospital presented a flag for each sailor to two representatives from the Ralph Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
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