ShareThis Page

Remains of 26 unclaimed vets receive proper burial in Cecil cemetary

| Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

For four years, their remains sat unclaimed, awaiting mass burial.

On Thursday, a team of volunteers buried 26 veterans with military honors in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil.

“We have some veterans that have passed that are finally getting the proper send-off that they should have gotten a long time ago. To stand there looking at those urns just brings tears to my eyes,” said Carl Mochak, 67, a Vietnam veteran and chaplain for VFW Post 5758 in Tarentum.

About 250 unclaimed bodies had been under the care of the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, but John Fabry, Pennsylvania coordinator of the Missing in America Project, suspected that some were veterans entitled to military funerals.

“Once you find an individual is a veteran, you feel bad,” Fabry told the Trib last week. “Here's a person who served his country, and now nobody wants to give him a proper burial.”

The Missing in America Project says on its website that it has visited 1,560 funeral homes, identified the cremated remains of 2,144 people as those of veterans and buried 1,882 of them.

The ceremony on Thursday started with a procession leaving the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science on Baum Boulevard in East Liberty. It reached the national military cemetery about an hour later.

The veterans represented all branches of the military except the Coast Guard. Most died after 2010.

“In retrospect, it's a sad day, of course, for many of the family members, but it's also the job that we do,” said Bill McClements, 68, of Murrysville, a member of the funeral detail representing the Three Rivers Leatherneck Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

“Leave no man behind, or woman,” said Steve Hloznik, 68, of Tarentum, memorial unit chairman for the Tarentum VFW post.

Trib Total Media staff photographer Stephanie Strasburg contributed to this report.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.