The cremated remains of 29 military veterans arrive today at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and were laid to rest with military honors in a special 2020 Forgotten Heroes Funeral. Courtesy/NMDVS
The cremated remains of 29 military veterans were laid to rest with military honors today at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in a special 2020 Forgotten Heroes Funeral. Courtesy/NMDVS
SANTA FE – The cremated remains of twenty-nine military veterans who, upon their deaths were unclaimed by family members, were laid to rest with military honors today at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in a special 2020 Forgotten Heroes Funeral.
Due to COVID-19 protective health measures, the funeral was a private event attended by New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Secretary Judy Griego, New Mexico Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Ken Nava, Santa Fe National Cemetery Interim Director Jennifer Dehorty, and a handful of staff members from DVS and Daniels Family Funeral Services of Albuquerque—all of whom were wearing protective masks and observed social distancing.
The entire service was videotaped and will be posted next week on the DVS website. Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham delivered a videotaped eulogy, praising the fallen veterans for their sacrifice on behalf of all Americans.
“We are forced to host this ceremony virtually, but that should not diminish our effort to provide these veterans the ‘final salute’ they earned through their service to our country,” the Governor said. “This may be called the Forgotten Heroes Funeral, but these heroes, today, are not forgotten. May the souls of these 29 men rest now and forever in peace.”
Daniels Family Funeral Services donated the urns and also hosted a brief memorial service prior transporting the urns to the Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Of the 29 veterans—all of them male—25 were from Bernalillo County, and four from Otero County. They were provided the formal military funeral through the Forgotten Heroes Burial Program.
This collaborative effort between the state and all 33 counties in New Mexico ensures that any honorably discharged deceased veteran whose body goes unclaimed by family members receives a military funeral at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.
The program was created in 2009 through an initial collaboration with Bernalillo County, which sought assistance to help lay to rest—with honor—the cremated remains of its unclaimed deceased veterans. It was the first state-led collaborative effort in the nation to ensure that unclaimed deceased honorably discharged veterans receive a military funeral.
Interred with full military honors at today’s funeral were 25 veterans from Bernalillo County:
- USAF Pvt. Adrian San Jose Christain Aarons (Date of death: 5/23/19)
- U.S. Army (rank undetermined) Lionel Eugene Austin (12/31/18)
- USAF A1C Robert Bell (8/23/18)
- U.S Navy SA John D. Brant (12/31/17)
- Army SP4 Dobbins D. Brown (8/10/18)
- U.S. Coast Guard PO1 Richard Lee Bryson (1/31/18)
- Army (rank undetermined) Jimmy Edward Chavez (2/25/18)
- Army (rank undetermined) Fredrick Finfrock (3/19/19)
- USAF MSgt. Arnold Alvin Fischer (9/14/18)
- Army (rank undetermined) Horatio C. Flores (9/10/18)
- USMC (rank undetermined) Bruce Charles Fox (2/1/19)
- Navy (rank undetermined) Gregory Ayala Garcia (5/14/18)
- Coast Guard PO3 Hugh Kenneth Gilmour (9/4/18)
- Navy (rank undetermined) Fred Louis Hernandez (10/24/18)
- USMC (rank undetermined) Perry Lee Hiner (6/11/18)
- Army PFC Rafael Jesus Hinojosa (12/29/18)
- USAF (rank undetermined) Jimmy Wayne Mattison (5/4/18)
- Army PFC Gary W. Moore (7/16/18)
- Army PFC Carlos Pinkston (4/30/18)
- Navy SA Larry Wayne Reckard (7/3/18)
- Army (rank undetermined) Don Anthony Saavedra (12/31/18)
- USAF (rank undetermined) Herdia Luke Shell (9/25/18)
- Army SP4 Darryl Howard Shrader (6/15/18)
- USAF SSgt James Arthur Stevens (3/11/19)
- USAF (rank undetermined) Hugh Godwin Vann II (9/22/18)
Interred today from Otero County:
- USMC Cpl Earl Brubaker (3/27/17)
- Navy P3 Elbert Stocks (3/13/18)
- Army PVT Richard Wolfe (6/12/18)
- USAF TSgt Buddy Milford (3/6/17)
Today’s funeral featured a flag-fold ceremony and 21-Rifle Volley performed by the New Mexico National Guard Honor Guard. Adjutant General Nava presented the folded American Flag used in the service to DVS Secretary Griego, who accepted it on behalf of Gov. Lujan Grisham and the citizens of New Mexico.
The cremated remains of 29 military veterans are placed in the columbarium today at the Santa Fe National Cemetery following a special 2020 Forgotten Heroes Funeral. Courtesy/NMDVS