PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Three veterans were laid to rest this morning at the Cemetery of the Alleghenies.
It was part of the Missing in America Project for unclaimed veterans.
Two of the veterans laid to rest were Marines, who served in Vietnam. The third served in the U.S. Air Force.
Both of the firefighters who honored the procession and combat veterans who attended the ceremony said it was important for the men to be remembered.
High above Interstate 79 in Cranberry, the American flag waved in the wind Friday morning.
“The flag is 10×20 foot flag. It’s our biggest flag in our fleet,” said Dennis Kimmel, a volunteer firefighter with the Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department. “Our tower here will extend 100 feet to raise it as high as we can.”
Firefighters from the Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department raised the flag, as a symbol of thanks, to veterans. Those whose remains were never claimed, or never had a burial, are escorted by police and veterans, from Butler County, to the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County.
“Anytime we can come out and honor our vets, we want to do that,” said Kimmel.
As the procession passes, firefighters stand at attention and salute. Once at the cemetery, there is a ceremony, with full military honors, a 21-gun salute and the final call of duty, Taps, is played.
The Missing in America Project started in 2006. It’s designed for veterans who might not have surviving family, or whose family can’t bury their loved one. Combat veterans participate to show their respect.
Those laid to rest Friday were Gary Howard Gayhart, David Andrew Zulick and Alvin Lee Swain.
“It’s just nice to remember these people even though they may have no family or friends who remember them, but we try to,” said Don Fulton, a Vietnam Veteran who rode his motorcycle in the procession and attended the funeral.
Fulton said it’s never too late to say thank you, to those who served.
“It’s just a nice thing to remember the people who gave them the freedom,” he said.
The Cemetery of the Alleghenies has hosted ceremonies as part of the Missing in America project since 2010. It was the first cemetery in Pennsylvania to do so.