Special service held for two 'unclaimed veterans' in Portland

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A service was held Tuesday to honor two men considered “unclaimed veterans.”

Douglas Walls, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and Danny Mendenhall, a U.S. Navy veteran, both died recently in Portland without anyone to claim them.

That’s when the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veteran Burial Program stepped in to help, organizing a service and asking fellow servicemembers and members of the public to attend.

Organizers said they bought food for 50 people, but hundreds and hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to the two men they never met.

Among them was Kristine Gilman, who brought her 3-year-old daughter and a handful of fresh flowers.

“I just feel it’s really important to teach her from a young age to pay respect for our veterans, that’s it’s a very important part of our country,” Gilman said. “They gave up their life to serve and I think it’s important to respect and honor that.”

The service included the releasing of doves, a Patriot Guard escort, a final salute, and folded burial flags.

Walls’ flag was received by Cyrus Faussete-Sadri, a member of the Lewis & Clark Young Marines.

Mendenhall’s flag was received by Patricia Lucas, the Gold Star Mother of Navy SEAL Jeff Lucas, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2005.

She may never have met Mendenhall, but she’s glad to honor his life and service.

“The things that you give up to be in the service, I don’t think people really realize all the time how much it costs,” Lucas told Fox 12.

She said whenever she received a flag, she thinks of her son.

Jeff Lucas grew up in Corbett and died in the operation that became famous through The Lone Survivor story.

“There’s a very nice memorial out at Corbett and I’m going to have them fly this flag as well,” she added. “…You don’t have to agree with war. It just happens. But you need to be supportive of everyone who serves, it doesn’t matter how or why or who. You need to encourage them in every way you can and be there for them.”

Organizers said Lincoln Memorial Park & Funeral Home is honored to provide burial services through the Dignity Memorial program, and has been doing so since 2009. Services include steel caskets, flowers, transportation and funeral home services, a catered reception and coordination for Marine Corps and Navy Military Honors.

Both men will be laid to rest in Willamette National Cemetery.

To learn more, visit https://www.dignitymemorial.com/plan-funeral-cremation/veterans/homeless-veterans-program.

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