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Nearly 200 attend Missouri service to put to rest remains of three veterans

By KEVIN MCCLINTOCK | The Joplin Globe | Published: May 28, 2019

WEBB CITY, Mo. (Tribune News Service) — The cremated remains of three veterans that had been left unclaimed for years, two for decades, were finally given full military honors during a special Memorial Day service Monday.

Once the remains of Morris Marion Boyd, Ralph Paul Lane and Glenn Robert Lake were placed at rest, each with a wrapped American flag next to it, a 21-gun salute sounded. Moments later, the mournful wail of taps bowed the heads of the 200 veterans and onlookers paying their respects for the three soldiers.

• Morris Marion Boyd was 87 when he died in 1975 and was a supply sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War I. He served in France from May 19, 1918, to April 20, 1919.

• Ralph Paul Lane died in 1977 at the age of 79. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I. He served in France from Aug. 31, 1918, until April 21, 1919.

• Glenn Robert Lake died in 2007 at the age of 79 and served as a U.S. Marine in World War II. He enlisted as a private on Nov. 7, 1944, and was discharged on Dec. 20, 1945.

The large crowd at the Veterans Memorial of Timeless Honor at Mount Hope Cemetery wasn’t lost on Donnie Lake, the nephew of Glenn Lake.

“Isn’t it awesome?” Lake said, looking around at the veterans representing at least six American wars, including World War II. “It’s almost overwhelming. I’m really grateful for these guys doing this. It means a lot to me and my family.”

His uncle Glenn Lake, he said, had lived in Arlington, Virginia, while Donnie Lake was growing up, so he didn’t get to see him all that often. But, he added, “he was a good guy. The last time I spent time with him was on a Fourth of July. … We had a great big barbecue. He was a funny guy. (He) always was a lot of fun, always laughing.”

He said the news of his uncle’s abandoned ashes being discovered in storage inside a local mortuary, never claimed by family members, came as a complete shock to him.

“We really don’t know how this happened. I thought he’d been taken care of,” Donnie Lake said, adding that family members who could answer his questions had long since passed. “How did it happen? I don’t know.”

In fact, Donnie Lake said he’s been fighting recent pangs of guilt.

“I feel like I did a dishonor to Uncle Glenn by not checking up on (things). I don’t know. We need to be more aware. We need to take care of our family; we need to take care of our veterans. It’s opened my eyes."

The ceremony, a combined project of Joplin American Legion Post 13 in conjunction with the staff at both Mount Hope and Thornhill-Dillon Mortuary, was the first of its kind attempted in this area, said Warren Turner, American Legion Post 13 commander.

“We’re setting a precedent,” Turner said. “I know there’s more (soldiers' remains) out there. We want to do everyone. No soldier left behind.”

When Turner uttered those four words during the ceremony, he was immediately answered by a dozen, somber “amens” from the veterans in attendance.

“Maybe today, with all of you being here, we can push this on and say: ‘If someone in your mortuary or crematory is a veteran, we want to bury them today,’” Turner said. “It spurs us on. To do more. To find more.”

VFW Post 534 Commander Bruce Redden was on hand to pay his respects to the three veterans. Normally on Memorial Day, each post honors its own. But this event was something a bit more special.

“This was a long time coming” for the three men, Redden said. “We all came together for this – we all found about it — we wanted to be a part of this. We weren’t going to let these guys go by themselves.”

©2019 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)
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