AUGUSTA, Mich. — On a warm but somber day at the Fort Custer National Cemetery, five mid-Michigan men were finally, properly put to rest.
“It’s an absolute honor. This is something amazing that we’re able to kind of give back to them and give them a dignified burial,” Sparrow Forensic Pathology Chief Investigator Medical Examiner Michelle Fox said.
Those five men were Navy veterans Walter Lee Warden from Ingham County, Michael Thomas from Eaton County, Mervin Timon from Isabella County, Mark Hurst from Ingham County and Army veteran Lerry Heins from Lansing.
“Mr. Mark Hurst had an extremely amazing friend that lives in California,” Fox said. “He was trying to be out here today and couldn’t. I am going to make sure that he received one of the flags and the rifle volley, the cartridges. The rest were donated back to the cemetery for other veterans.”
One day before Veterans Day, they came together after the Sparrow Forensic Pathology Office researched the backgrounds of the local deceased individuals who had lost touch with their families and couldn’t afford a burial.
“We make arrangements with the counties to provide a direct cremation, and then, the cremains come back to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and we’re considered to be their sort of next of kin,” Fox said.
And, at the end, it’s a day to remember and honor those who served.
“They gave their time, their energy, almost their lives when they were overseas, when they were serving our country to give us the freedoms that we have,” Fox said.
Fort Custer National Cemetery is located in Augusta, just outside of Battle Creek.
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