Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Jersey Mission of Honor

N.J. Mission of Honor gives respectful and dignified burials to forgotten veterans.


The cremated remains of 12 veterans that had been unclaimed on the shelves of funeral homes across New Jersey — some for more than 30 years — were given a full military internment Thursday.

The burials were part of the ongoing efforts of the New Jersey Mission of Honor, which seeks to pay tribute to deceased and forgotten soldiers.

The day began with a special ceremony outside the Garfield VFW Post. Veterans from all over the state, some in full uniform and others in jeans and denim vests who rode in on Harleys, came to honor their reclaimed comrades.

When the Mission of Honor began two years ago, its members were told that there were no cremains to be found sitting forgotten on the shelves of funeral homes, said Francis Carrasco, chairman of the Mission of Honor and a Lodi resident. But so far, the group has returned unclaimed veterans’ cremains to roughly 130 families, and have buried 31 who had no one else to claim them.

“Destiny has brought us here to gather and pay our respects to these cremains that had been forgotten, but have been found,” said Al Lucente, Bergen CountyCoordinator of the Mission of Honor. “They have endured enough. They now have closure.”

The cremains of the veterans were claimed from Lakeview Memorial Home in Clifton, Codey Funeral Home in Orange, Day Funeral Home in Keyport, and the Aug F. Schmidt Funeral Home in Elizabeth. All but two of the men served in World War II. The cremains of Robert M. Hults, of Orange, who served as a sergeant with the Army from 1942 to 1946, had been on a shelf at the Codey Funeral Home in Orange for almost 38 years before the Mission of Honor came knocking.

Remembering those who served

These 12 veterans were interred at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown Thursday:
• Owen J. Harris. Served 1941 to 1945 in the Merchant Marines. Died April 28, 1977, in Union Beach.
• Neil Krisch. Served 1941 to 1945 as a Tech Sgt. in the Army. Died Oct. 27, 1978 in Union Beach.
• John F. Bannon. Served 1943 to 1946 as a Tech 4 Sgt. in the Army. Died Nov. 17, 1993 in Elizabeth.
• Ralph M. Dorsch. Served 1943 to 1946 as a Tech 3 Sgt. in the Army. Died April 19, 2003 in Elizabeth.
• Andrew Fachet Jr. Served 1942 to 1946 as a Staff Sgt. in the Army. Died Sept. 18, 1977, in Newark.
• Michael Begosh. Served 1942 to 1943 as a Private in the Army. Died Nov. 20, 1991 in Passaic.
• Arthur W. Harty. Served 1943 to 1945 as Seaman 1st Class in the Navy. Died Jan. 31, 1985 in Paterson.
• Frank Fryer. Served in the Army as a Private first from 1920 to 1922, then again as Private from 1938 to 1940. Died Aug. 26, 1979 in Orange.
• Arthur J.C. Omdal. Served 1942 to 1945 as a Private in the Army. Died July 2, 1981 in Orange.
• Robert M. Hults. Served 1942 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Army. Died Nov. 2, 1973 in Orange.
• George Davis. Served in the Army from 1943 to 1945. Died May 25, 1982 in Orange.
• John Barry. Served in the Army during the Korean War, 1950 to 1953. Died March 23, 1999 in Verona.

After the ceremony in Garfield, the State Police led a funeral procession down the Turnpike to Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, in Wrightstown. The roar of the bikers’ engines gave way to a solemn silence at 2 p.m. as the Mission of Honor, joined by various representatives of the Armed Forces, conducted a full military internment.

Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General of New Jersey, praised the all-volunteer group for its ongoing efforts.

“There’s not any veteran that should be left alone anywhere,” Rieth said. “Every veteran, regardless of where they are, regardless of what shelf they sit on, should be laid to rest with dignity and honor.”

Mission of Honor Chaplain Jerry Skorch delivered a eulogy for the internment, and gave some insight into who the 12 men were – where they were born, where and when they served, and where they lived out the remainders of their lives once they returned to the U.S. For each veteran, he proclaimed that on that day, everyone present was that man’s family.

After the eulogy, six soldiers in uniform stood before the dark wooden boxes containing the veterans’ cremains and unfurled a large American flag. Across the field, seven volunteers from the Mission of Honor, dressed in black, white and gold, fired three volleys. Retired First Sgt. Richard Pinter played Taps on his bugle. The uniformed soldiers then carefully folded the flag into a tight triangle, and presented it to Rieth. Eleven more flags were then presented to the general in graceful and somber precision, and the ceremony was over.

“This is a beautiful thing,” said Fred Vineyard, of Somers Point, the 1st Vice Commander of American Veterans, a national veteran’s group. “These men were sitting on selves for years and years. They deserve a resting place here in Doyle cemetery.”

The Mission of Honor is currently working to verify that cremains from a home in Cliffside Park are from veterans, Carrasco said. The group expects to hold its next internment ceremony in Toms River in October.

“As long as funeral homes keep working with us to allow us to identify these cremains, we’ll keep going,” Carrasco said.


1 comment:

Bill Kelly said...

I understand that they had the remains of 13 men but only included 12 in the ceremony. On Sept. 3, 1804, after the USS Intrepid had left on its fateful mission, a small launch caught up and Lt. Israel came aboard with final orders for Somers. Although not needed, Israel elected to stay aboard for the mission, the unlucky 13th member of the crew. His remains lay buried at Green Square.