Fort Worth

Hundreds of Texans Attend Funeral of Unknown Veteran

Joseph Walker's daughter did come forward but not in time for the funeral Monday

The death of a U.S. Air Force veteran with no known family and whose Central Texas funeral was not expected to bring any visitors drew the attention of a state agency and social media.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in a statement encouraged the public to attend the service Monday for Joseph Walker at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.

The cemetery, which is part of the Texas General Land Office, said they did not know where his family was and they did not want him to be laid to rest alone, and also turned to social media to ask the public to attend.

Hundreds from across the state heard the call and filled the cemetery on Monday.

"And they came from all over, I saw Dallas police here, I talked to one guy who came from north of Fort Worth and Austin area, just a lot of people," said Budd Johnson, Patriot Guard Rider, Central Texas Region.

Walker served four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Officials didn't indicate when he died or the circumstances of his death.

"Joseph Walker earned the right for a burial, a proper burial in honors, so that's what we here today as a community," said Douglas R. Gault, Chief on site Representative with the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.

"That soldier payed the ultimate price, granted it was only for four years, but he's still a veteran and veterans we are all family, forever, till death do us part," said Greg Todge, Christian Motorcycle Association.

Because of the overwhelming support of active duty military and veterans along with the extensive media coverage, the Texas General Land Office told WKYC-TV that Walker's daughter was found.

She didn't arrive in time to attend the full service, but did meet with cemetery staff afterward and received the flag from Walker's casket.

The General Land Office said Walker's funeral was the 53rd unaccompanied burial.

Efforts began in 2015 to ensure a proper burial for "unaccompanied veterans." Prior to that, a veteran's burial was up to the discretion of a county judge and could result in cremation and the remains being placed in storage.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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