On Thursday, 21 unaccompanied veterans were laid to rest at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery with a crowd of strangers making sure they weren't alone on their last mission.
The crowd arrived early at the cemetery, but there were still so many in attendance they couldn't all fit under the pavilion where nearly two dozen veterans were being memorialized.
"We are gathered here today to provide military honors," an officiant said. "We don't know much about these men, except they served their country with honor."
One by one, the veterans' names and their years of service were read. A few of them had family present to accept a flag.
- Dennis Leslie Baker
- John Travis Buford
- David Ogden Butler
- Kenneth Halsell Embree, Jr.
- Kenneth Glen Floyd
- Rufus Herman Griffin
- David Rodney HocuttCarl Edward Hunt
- Christopher Robert Kirk
- Brian Keith Kirkbride
- Michael Anthony Mattox
- Arthur Lee Matts
- James Walter McCormick
- Roger Reece Middleton
- Joe Gregory Mireles
- Mark Steven Parra
- Scotty Gene Priddy
- Hal Burnett Thomas
- Jon Neal Ulrey
- Russell Alan Williams
- Howard George Wright
"I found out early this morning that no one was going to be here and I said, 'I can't let that happen,'" Calvin Blankenship said. His uncle, Kenneth Floyd, was among those being honored.
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"It warms my heart. It makes me feel good that this many people would come out for people they don't know," Blankenship said. "This is unbelievable."
"Whether you know 'em or not, what's the difference," asked Marine veteran Thomas Warren. "Nobody should pass on without someone being there."
The unaccompanied veterans memorial service was coordinated by the Veteran's Administration, Dallas County, DFW National Cemetery and the Patriot Riders. Four unaccompanied veterans services are performed each year at the cemetery.