The Missing in America Project laid to rest 18 more veterans Sept. 12 at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista.
Along with the 18 homeless or indigent veterans, one spouse was also buried. The remains were those of service members who served in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy during World War II, the Vietnam and Korean War and during the Vietnam and Cold War eras.
“The purpose of the MIA Project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes,” according to the foundation’s website.
Fort Huachuca Garrison Commander Col. Dan McFarland represented Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, at the ceremony. McFarland shared with the audience that during his last assignment prior to 9/11, he worked in Asia as part of the Joint Task Force accounting for prisoners of war or those missing in action and spent three years searching for service members in Southeast Asia to bring them home. “It is a fitting thing right here in the United States that we found our own,” he said.
The cremains were escorted to the cemetery by a motorcade of more than 100 riders from throughout the state. The cemetery’s columbaria now holds 62 remains from the MIA project, which was started nation-wide in 2007.
Those honored on Wednesday were given their final role call to the audience of more than 200 people. Veterans, active duty military, civilians, politicians, one family member, the Buena High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and others attended the ceremony to bid a final farewell.
“We support MIAP; we have done it since the very beginning here and we come because it is important to never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice even though it may have been later in life, they took an oath and they deserve our respect,” said Onita Davis, a member of the Oro Valley American Legion Auxiliary Unit 132.
Audience member Delores Summers, who is a member of the Christian Motorcyclist Association and of the Patriot Guard, said tearfully, “we just appreciate the veterans and everything they have done,” when asked why she attended the service with her husband.