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Final resting place, honors for unclaimed veterans

Tri-City Herald

Jerry Wallis, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Richland, stands at the front of the line during an interment ceremony Tuesday at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake. Thirty-six of the cremated remains, some unclaimed for as long as 24 years, were from Benton County, Kennewick, Richland and Wenatchee.
Jerry Wallis, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Richland, stands at the front of the line during an interment ceremony Tuesday at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake. Thirty-six of the cremated remains, some unclaimed for as long as 24 years, were from Benton County, Kennewick, Richland and Wenatchee. Courtesy photo

Forty-seven veterans now have a permanent resting place at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery at Medical Lake following a formal military interment service.

Thirty-six of the cremated remains, some unclaimed for as long as 24 years, were from Benton County, Kennewick, Richland and Wenatchee.

Vietnam veteran John Hundahl, area representative for the Missing in America Project, helped coordinate delivery of the remains to the site for Tuesday’s ceremony.

Last year, Hundahl began calling coroner’s offices and funeral homes around Eastern Washington, looking to see if they had unclaimed remains.

He then checks the names with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis to see if they served in the military. Veterans are eligible for a free military funeral.

Hundahl had been involved with the Veterans of Foreign Wars for several years, joining shortly after retiring in the Tri-Cities from his job as an engineer in Spokane.

Last month, members of Patriot Guard Riders, other local motorcycle groups and individual riders participated in an “honors ride” and delivered 22 cremated remains to the cemetery in preparation for the ceremony.

The Missing in America Project has buried the remains of more than 2,300 veterans nationally, according to Hundahl.

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