(Tribune News Service) — Sixty years after his military service ended, a Colorado Navy veteran was properly laid to rest thanks to the efforts of Longmont resident Harlan Olson.

Olson is a volunteer with the Missing in America Project, a national organization dedicated to recovering the unclaimed cremated remains, or cremains, of military veterans. In 2020, he discovered that the Northern Colorado Crematory in Greeley had a veteran on the crematory's list of unclaimed remains: LeRoy Myers.

Through Olson's roughly eight weeks of research, he found out Myers served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 until 1962. Myers was fully identified by August 2020, but Olson held off on a formal funeral until pandemic-imposed social distancing regulations had subsided.

"We wanted (Myers) to have full military honors," he said.

Myers' cremains were taken to Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver and buried last month. The funeral featured a 21-gun salute and was attended by Mike Shults, the Colorado state coordinator for the Missing in America Project, who flew out from Grand Junction.

Myers died in 2019 at the age of 85, but Olson was unable to track down any of Myers' relatives. Olson said that according to Colorado law, this made him Myers' legal next of kin, which led to him and his wife, Janelle, keeping Myers' cremains in their home for a few months leading up to the funeral.

Olson served in the Army Security Agency, the now defunct U.S. Army's signals intelligence branch. He was tasked with listening to radio transmissions during the Vietnam War in the early 1960s — right after graduating from high school.

"I had never even heard of Vietnam," he said.

Every year, Harlan and Janelle Olson participate in Run for the Wall, a cross-country motorcycle journey that starts in California and ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Harlan Olson was honored several years ago with a salute from his fellow cyclists during one of the trips; due to the classified nature of the Army Security Agency, it wasn't able to happen earlier.

"It took me 47 years to get welcomed home," he said.

Harlan Olson escorted Myers' cremains from Longmont to Denver on his motorcycle alongside members of Longmont-based American Legion Post 32 and the Patriot Guard Riders of Colorado. He said the funeral was satisfying and felt special. Janelle Olson agreed, happy with the closure it brought.

"This man served, so he deserved that honor," she said.

(c)2022 the Daily Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.)

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