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Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:28

Eight Forgotten Heroes Finally Laid to Rest with Full Military Honors

By | News
The Patriot Guard Riders will lay unclaimed soldiers to rest on Friday, June 5 with full military honors, as was done in this 2011 photo. The Patriot Guard Riders will lay unclaimed soldiers to rest on Friday, June 5 with full military honors, as was done in this 2011 photo. Photo provided.

SCHUYLERVILLE – On Friday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m., the Patriot Guard Riders will lay to rest the remains of eight unclaimed veterans in the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville with full military honors and an escort of more than 100 motorcycles. All are welcome to attend.

These seven WWII veterans and one Vietnam veteran, for a variety of reasons, had no one to claim their cremated remains for all these years until local members of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, Inc. took it upon themselves to research who they were and contact the state and federal organizations that could confirm their veteran status. 

“Six served in the U.S. Army, one in the U.S. Navy, and one in the U.S. Air Force,” said Patriot Guard Assistant State Ride Captain and Veteran Recovery Program State Coordinator Bill Schaaf. “Some veterans have been unclaimed for 20 years or more. In the past few years, we’ve even laid to rest WWI veterans who had been unclaimed for almost 50 years.”

The mission of the Patriot Guard Riders’ Veteran Recovery Program is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state, and federal organizations. 

“By securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes,” said Schaaf, “we honor and respect them for their service to our country.” 

About seven years ago, the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, Inc. was formed. It is a non-profit New York corporation affiliated with the national Patriot Guard Riders and organized exclusively for charitable and community service purposes. Members are a diverse group of patriots who come together to show support to U.S. service members, veterans, and their families, as well as first responders. Many also share a love of motorcycles, and many are also veterans, but neither is a requirement for membership. 

Schaaf has been involved with them since the beginning. “Nationally, most states work with the Missing in America Project,” he said, “but here in New York it’s us. There are many unclaimed remains to still search through and find out if they are veterans. Once confirmed of veteran status, they will receive burial benefits, and the urns are donated by the Northeastern Woodworkers Association, so there’s very little cost.”

The burial benefits include the draping of the flag, the service, uniformed honor guard, and all the traditional ceremonial honors given in posthumous gratitude for a veteran’s service. Friday’s event coincides with the Americade in Lake George, so it is expected to draw a large number of riding participants as well as any who wish to pay their respects. For more information about the Patriot Guard Riders or to read about the veterans being laid to rest, please visit www.pgrny.org.

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