In Their Honor Transports provided services for a man who was fatally shot at the Gables Mills Apartments off Akers Mill Road in the Cumberland area of Cobb County.

In Their Honor Transports provided services for a man who was fatally shot at the Gables Mills Apartments off Akers Mill Road in the Cumberland area of Cobb County. (John Spink, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — An American flag was carefully placed upon the casket of a female U.S. Army veteran from Hall County, Ga., with extreme care taken to make sure the fabric didn’t touch the ground.

On that beautiful but solemn March day, a transport company that provides services for deceased military veterans was taking the flag-draped casket to the Georgia National Cemetery in Cherokee County, where the woman was laid to rest.

There, the brother of the veteran, whose identity was protected, approached the company’s founder, Don Ware, and stated only a few words: “Thank you for remembering her.”

About 13 years ago, Ware started his Atlanta-based company, In Their Honor Transports, after feeling that veterans were often overlooked. Outside of thanking the family for the veteran’s service, he hadn’t seen any other business take the time to honor them after death in the way he wanted.

Since then, Ware’s third-party transport company has provided services for more than 14,000 people, about 20% of whom were military veterans.

“It’s just an honor to serve these individuals and help their families and give them direction as best we can in a time of loss,” Ware told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If we come across a veteran, we make sure we recognize them and show that extra respect that they deserve.”

About six years ago, Ware signed a contract with the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office to transport the deceased, with most of those jobs involving non-veterans. Individual funeral homes also reach out to Ware’s company, which is where the bulk of the veteran transport requests are made. In most cases, their employees pick up the dead from either a specific location or a hospital and take them to the funeral home.

During each job, the flags are only placed over veterans, while gurney covers resembling flowery homemade quilts are placed over both veterans and non-veterans, he said. In late March, the company was called to the Gables Mills Apartments off Akers Mill Road in the Cumberland area of Cobb County after two people were shot there, including 47-year-old William Brown, who died. The company’s vehicles, equipment and employees were visible at the scene.

Ware said he used to employ veterans who would stand in uniform and salute the deceased after folding the flag and placing it over them. They stopped that procedure last year when the final veteran employee retired due to health reasons.

Ware’s appreciation for the military started at home in Pickens and Cherokee counties, where he grew up and now lives with his wife. His grandfather served in World War II, and others in the family fought in Korea and Vietnam, he said. Ware’s oldest son is a Marine.

“I have two regrets: That I didn’t serve my country, and I sure wish I met my wife way before I did,” he joked.

The 56-year-old later became the state director of Bugles Across America, an independent organization he said shows up to play live versions of “Taps” for veterans at their funerals and memorial services.

Ware worked there for about six years before starting his company, which handles jobs across metro Atlanta and Georgia. He feels In Their Honor Transports was the first in the state to provide unique transport services for deceased veterans.

“I know that since we started what we do for veterans, there have been others that copycat,” he said. “But I am OK with that, because it just means another veteran is (being) honored.”

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