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    HRC lays unclaimed retiree to rest during unofficial ceremony

    HRC lays unclaimed retiree to rest during unofficial ceremony

    Photo By Maria McClure | A Soldier presents the American flag that was draped over the casket of retired 1st...... read more read more



    Story by Maria McClure 

    U.S. Army Human Resources Command

    FORT KNOX, Kentucky – Retired 1st Sgt. Henry W. Pope died Feb. 25, 2023, at the age of 83 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany – there was no Family present.

    Pope’s wife, Maria, died March 1, 2006, and so the staff of the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division, or CMAOD, The Adjutant General Directorate, or TAGD, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, began an exhaustive search for a Family member. No one was found.

    “The Army’s casualty and mortuary affairs programs ensure our Soldiers and Families are taken care of, especially during a time of loss,” said Brig. Gen. Greg Johnson, The Adjutant General of the U.S. Army. “The work we do each day alongside our mission partners and agencies allows us to support commanders, Soldiers, Families and survivors.”

    Unofficial ceremony

    Army Regulation 638-2, “Army Mortuary Affairs Program,” prescribes in Chapter 2, section 12, the disposition of a pensioner who dies at a military treatment facility, or MTF, and no person or Family can be identified or located.

    “Kyle [Cherrington] and his team did extensive research trying to find Family,” said Erick Hoversholm, deputy of the Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Branch, or CMAB. “This veteran was 83 years old, so we exhausted every possible source trying to find a blood relative and there just wasn’t anyone.”

    Hoversholm said typically a person authorized to direct disposition, or PADD, is designated on DD Form 93, but because Pope had been retired for so long there was no designee and so the responsibility for disposition of remains fell upon the chief of CMAOD.

    Although Pope had no affiliation to the Fort Knox area, the staff charged with his arrangements felt this was the best way to serve him, said Kyle Cherrington, chief of initial case management, CMAB, adding that Pope’s interment was an unofficial ceremony as prescribed in AR 638-2.
    “This was our chance to take care of him,” Cherrington said.

    1st Sgt. Henry W. Pope

    Pope’s Army story began in July 1958 after graduating from John Handley High School, Winchester, Virginia. During his Army career, Pope was stationed overseas in Alaska and Germany. He deployed to Vietnam in April 1968 and fought in the TET Counteroffensive that November.

    “There is just amazing information in 1st Sgt. Pope’s military personnel file from general officers and leaders lauding him for what an amazing supply sergeant he was, and his many awards throughout his career including Vietnam,” Cherrington said.

    Pope retired from the Army March 31, 1979, after nearly 21 years of service.

    At the time of his death, he was still serving the community as a part-time non-appropriated fund employee working at Burger King at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Cherrington said.

    Several organizations including the Fort Knox Casualty Assistance Center, the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central and the Chism Family Funeral Home in Vine Grove, Kentucky, joined together in the effort to serve this veteran one last time while also honoring Pope’s final wish.

    “1st Sgt. Pope’s wish was to have his wife’s cremated remains buried with him, and that took a little extra work,” Cherrington said. “We had to fill out an application for her and get everything approved so she could be buried with him.”

    Her cremated remains were placed inside Pope’s casket prior to his interment.

    “[The veterans cemetery] did not have to do that because that is not something that is normally done,” Cherrington said. “But in the interest of taking care of both of them it was decided that was the appropriate thing to do.”

    Surround by the extended Army Family and Patriot Guard Riders, Pope and his wife were laid to rest March 29, 2023, with full military honors at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff, Kentucky.

    The ceremony was also attended by Phoebe Arroyo, whose husband is interred at the cemetery. She often attends ceremonies like these to ensure no service member is buried alone.

    “I come here when Soldiers are going to buried without Family members or friends,” Arroyo said. “I come and sit for a little while and participate in the ceremony.”

    Chap. (Lt. Col.) Stuart Kazarovich officiated over the interment.

    “As you look out over these rolling hills, I encourage you to remember this: No plot on this sacred ground can be purchased, each has to be earned,” Kazarovich said. “And we know Henry William Pope has earned his place among us here today.”

    Cherrington took video of the ceremony in the event a member of Pope’s Family comes forward.

    “We wanted to have a video so we can give them a video of the military honors that took place for their Family member,” he said.

    The American flag that was draped over Pope’s casket was presented to The Adjutant General and the honor guard from the U.S. Army Cadet Command served as pallbearers, provided the 21-gun salute and a bugler who played “Taps.”

    “While these circumstances are unique, it’s our privilege and honor to support and execute this mission on behalf of the Army,” Johnson said.



    Date Taken: 04.06.2023
    Date Posted: 04.06.2023 15:36
    Story ID: 442188
    Location: FORT KNOX, KY, US 

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