News: Texas Military Forces and the Missing in America Project partner to honor deceased veterans
Story by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson
CAMP MABRY, Texas — Partnering with the Texas Military Forces Military Funeral Honors Detachment, the Missing in America Project performed the solemn rituals marking a veteran’s funeral at the Camp Mabry Open House and American Heroes Air Show in Austin, April 27, 2014.
With a full 10-man funeral detail provided by the TXMF, hundreds of visitors attended the ceremony in front of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Wall on the parade field.
For the 12 veterans honored, each represented by an urn containing their ashes, this was a day that might never have happened if not for the determination and dedication of the many MIAP volunteers.
The Missing In America Project came about just more than seven years ago, after the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery interred the cremains of 21 unclaimed veterans in 2006.
Whether they never had families to claim them, or those families had moved with no contact information, no one knew why they had waited on shelves but the state of Idaho made sure those veterans were buried among their comrades in arms with the honors and dignity their service deserved.
In 2014, MIAP continues with that purpose - to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations and to honor those veterans by finding a final resting place for them.
The group has lain to rest more than 1,800 veterans since its conception, but estimates there could be up to another 200,000 in storage all over the country. The remains could date as recently as this decade or as far back as the 1890s.
"We have no idea why they were unclaimed. We don't get into that. We don't care why," said chaplain Warran Wurzburger, the Texas Missing in America Project coordinator.
The 12 men honored on Sunday are as follows:
*Capt. James Holver Hook (1903-84), U.S. Navy, 1942-46, during World War II; and U.S. Navy Reserves, 1946-64, Korea and Vietnam.
* Pfc. Donald George Danylock (1955-89), U.S. Army, 1972, Vietnam.
* Staff Sgt. John Sidney Clevlen (1922-82), U.S. Army, 1943-45, World War II.
* Pvt. Ernest Joseph Bellot (1936-2004), U.S. Army, 1961-64, Vietnam.
* Capt. David B. Douglas (1910-98), U.S. Army, 1943-46, World War II.
* James Ferguson Childress (1925-86), U.S. Navy as seaman second class, 1942-46, World War II; U.S. Army as sergeant, 1946-49; U.S. Air Force, airman first class, 1951-61, Korea.
* 1st Lt. Robert Allen Rach (1924-1996), U.S. Army, 1951-53, Korea.
* Hospital Corpsman William G. Mayes (1928-2005), U.S. Navy, 1945-49, World War II; 1949-65, Korea and Vietnam.
* Cpl. Donald W. Klein (1924-2001), U.S. Army, 1943-46, World War II. (Combat soldier. Awarded Bronze Star.)
* Technician Fifth Grade Edgar R. Potratz (1914-98), U.S. Army, 1941-45, World War II.
* Spc. Fourth Class Jerry Wiedemeier (1944-2006), U.S. Army, 1962-65, Vietnam
* Spc. Fourth Class Jeffrey Albert Huebner (1959-2003), U.S. Army, 1977-82.
For Danylock’s daughter, Ashlee Earley, this was a chance to make a memory of the father she never had the chance to know.
Danylock died when she was 2, and her mother arranged to have the remains left in storage at Cook-Walden until Earley was old enough to decide where Dannylock would be interred. Life happened, and that decision was delayed significantly until MIAP contacted Dannylock’s family and Earley agreed to participate in the ceremony.
“I thought it was such a wonderful way to honor him and for me to truly make a memory of him that I would never forget,” said Earley. “I was born July of 1987 and my father passed away March of 1989. Being that I was very young, I have no memories of my own of him and thought this would be such an amazing experience not only for me, but for him also.”
In addition to attending ceremonies, Linda Smith, the MIAP national vice president, also travels around the country to help pass laws to protect funeral homes from legal action if they turn over information about unclaimed cremains including dates and identifying personal information.
From that information, Smith and her volunteers track down information through the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
Recently, although some laws have been passed restricting access to deceased veterans’ information, that’s not slowing Smith down.
"As long as veterans are dying and not being claimed, we will be doing it,” she said.
This work, Texas Military Forces and the Missing in America Project partner to honor deceased veterans, by SSG Jennifer Atkinson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.