An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Dec. 7, 2022

Community Pays Final Respects to Unaccompanied Veterans

By Victoria Granado Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Service members and civilians came together to pay their final respects to five veterans during an unaccompanied funeral service at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Nov. 30, 2022.

When a veteran of any branch passes away, efforts are taken to locate and identify the family or next-of-kin. In the case that none can be found, the Fort Richardson National Cemetery and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs work together to hold an unaccompanied funeral service to inter the veterans’ remains with the ceremony and honors they have earned.

The service on Nov. 30 paid final respects to five U.S. Army veterans:

• Sgt. Terry Michael O’Boyle was born on Jan. 2, 1947, in Cleveland, Ohio, and served as an intelligence analyst.

• Spc. Wilfredo Cenaida Vidal was born on Aug. 25, 1960, in New York City, N.Y., and served as a physical activities specialist.

• Spc. Anthony Wayne Knight was born on April 18, 1950, in La Grande, Ore., and served as an army cook and kitchen supervisor.

• Spc. Paul Anthony Hubert was born on Nov. 2, 1955, in Burlington, Vt., and served as an army radio mechanic.

• Spc. Leighton Keith Murphy was born on Aug. 7, 1950, in Harrisburg, Ill., and served as an army gunner and aircraft mechanic and repairman.

On a national level, efforts are conducted by the Missing in America Project a federally recognized non-profit veterans’ organization. The organization operates with representatives in each state, ensuring unaccompanied veterans’ remains are properly and respectfully laid to rest.

Answering the project’s petition for a representative in Alaska, Virginia Walker, director of the Fort Richardson National Cemetery and coordinator for the Minority Veterans Program, has been searching for unclaimed veterans’ remains for more than ten years.

“It started with finding abandoned urns on shelves that shouldn’t be there,” said Walker, referring to some of her visits to funeral homes.

After discovering the urns, Walker grew determined to hold full services for the deceased veterans and worked with the DMVA in making the arrangements.

“I want to honor those who have passed,” said Walker. “I want to make sure they are taken care of when they have no one to honor them.”

For Verdie Bowen, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs and a U.S. Air Force veteran of 23 years, helping coordinate the funerals and attending the services are both a professional and personal duty.

“The veteran community is a family,” said Bowen. “Even when there is no next-of-kin to be found, we will make sure they are sent off correctly.”

In some instances, the deceased veteran does have living relatives that, due to circumstances, cannot travel to Alaska. In either case, a full unaccompanied funeral service is held and is open to the public. The service on Nov. 30 included civilians, veterans and current service members.

“I appreciate the military families stepping forward and being there for the veterans who have passed,” said Walker. “The service is for the veterans. Even if there is no one else attending we do the full ceremony and honors.”

Unaccompanied funeral services are normally held at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery on the last Wednesday of every month at 2:30 p.m.


Like Us
Follow Us



13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducts HA/DR exercise as part of CARAT/MAREX 2023
MULLIKULAM, Sri Lanka (Jan. 23, 2023) – U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gage Wesley, a water support technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, gives a Sri Lanka Navy medical officer a sample of fresh water from a lightweight water purification system during a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise, Jan. 23, in Mullikulam. CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is a bilateral exercise between Sri Lanka and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, practice humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and strengthen maritime understanding, partnerships, and interoperability. In its 28th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partner forces’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brendan Custer)
Feb. 1, 2023 - U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) scenario as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training/Marine Exercise (CARAT/MAREX)...

U.S., Indian Airmen train side by side to sharpen airlift skills
U.S. Air Force 535th Airlift Squadron and the Indian Air Force No. 81 Squadron personnel pose for a photo during Exercise COPE INDIA 2022 at Hindan Air Base, India Nov. 18, 2022. (Courtesy photo)
Feb. 1, 2023 - On the morning of Nov. 18, 2022, with the sun peeking through a hazy horizon, the residents of Hindan Air Base, near New Delhi in northern India, were greeted by a new sight. Parked next to a neatly aligned row of Indian Air...

U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Fiji
Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Fiji Jan. 30-31, to reaffirm the strength of the bilateral relationship and advance shared interests in building a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Feb. 1, 2023 - SUVA, Fiji – Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Fiji Jan. 30-31, to reaffirm the strength of the bilateral relationship and advance shared interests in building a more peaceful, stable,...

U.S., South Korea Want Peace in Indo-Pacific
Jan. 31, 2023 - Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stressed that the goal of the U.S.-South Korean alliance is peace — not conflict — following meetings in Seoul, South Korea, today.The secretary made the remarks at a news conference...

U.S. Army Advisors Strengthen Partnership in Thailand
Sgt. 1st Class Justin Babb takes part in close quarters battle rehearsals with members of the Royal Thai Army. Babb is part of an SFAB Team assigned to Force Package 23-1, the 5th SFAB's forward-deployed element.
Jan. 31, 2023 - NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand – Three Advisor Teams from 2nd Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade partnered with the Royal Thai Army across Thailand during a multi-month rotation into theater beginning in October 2022...