Finals Honors: Funerals held for Nevada’s forgotten veterans

Nine percent of Nevadans are veterans according to a study based on census data.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 9:12 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Nine percent of Nevadans are veterans according to a study based on census data. Some vets are homeless and living on the streets, while others have outlived their family. When they pass away, there is no one to say goodbye to, no one to claim their remains but in Southern Nevada, they are not forgotten.

In honor of six Nevada veterans who faced their final battle and walk in life alone and forgotten, strangers gathered early one Thursday morning to pay respect and remember them in death.

In unadorned black boxes were the remains of those who once served our country, three U.S. Air Force and three U.S. Army vets from the Vietnam and Korean wars, all unclaimed, unaccompanied veterans.

“These our veterans that they may either be homeless or they have no family left for them... There are people going to their final resting place with no family,” said retired Senior Master Sargent Bobi Oates with Women Veterans of Nevada. One of these veterans in the ceremony has been waiting for burial since before Covid.

“Passed away in 2018, so, unfortunately, he has been sitting on a shelf,” Oates shared.

So many veterans are left behind by society, these unclaimed veteran services have been held weekly for more than 13 years at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

“Our Southern Nevada cemetery is the second busiest in the nation for a state veterans cemetery,” explained Oates.

Inside a crowded chapel at the cemetery with the Patriot Guard standing with American flags along the walls, a funeral service with full military honors was held. Those attending may not know their names and faces or life stories of those who died but they have shared their journey.

“These are our brothers and sisters. I served 23 years in the air force,” Oates said.

“A lot of people forget about the veterans, unfortunately, but we haven’t forgotten, and we hope as our group is getting older that our younger people will step up to replace us to make sure that when I am old when I have no family left, that there is somebody there. A brother or sister to make sure that I go to my final resting place not alone,” Oates confessed.

The remains of the six veterans reached their final resting place not alone, not forgotten, but surrounded by a crowd. Name markers, roses, and American flags were placed on each grave site in respect of the dead and their service to our country.

“It is an absolute honor to be down here... Every veteran deserves to be buried honorably with dignity and respect,” contended Daniel Cox, Assistant State Captain of the Southern Nevada Patriot Guard Riders.

Six men who may have not gotten what was earned in life were given unconditional love by their veteran families in death.

The services are held weekly on Thursday mornings at 8:40 a.m. at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.