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Memorial service honors vets, homelss vets remembered

Posted at 5:28 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 18:39:29-04

A celebration to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and what it means to be free.  It was the first time the event has been held at the Omaha National Cemetery and hundreds were in attendance.

They presented 7 wreaths to honor all branches of the military, and those who were Missing in Action or Prisoners of War.

Senator Deb Fisher said 77 nebraskans have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Their sacrifices for our freedoms won't be forgotten.

"Memorial Day means to me a time to honor people that have helped us serve or served for us and given us their lives and their families have sacrificed that.  My father's buried out here so we enjoy coming for the ceremony when they have it on Memorial Day," said Retired SFC David Hanson.

Mary Rosenthal is getting people to adopt the graves of veterans who were homeless or indigent since they may not have family around.  She says last year there were 9 graves and this year it's increased to a total of 14.  She's been very pleased with the support.

"I mean these are veterans that fell on hard times after serving our country so if we can get a handful of people or a bunch of people from the omaha area who would come out to visit them on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, a couple of times during the year just to show them respect and also let them know they won't be forgotten," Rosenthal explained.

Volunteers placed 1,000 flags by each grave of the veterans and family members buried there.

Here are the locations of the homeless or indigent veteran's headstones.

In Section 1:

  • Air Force Maj. Lucille L. Chilton, interred at No. 122 on Nov. 16, 2016
  • Korean War veteran Army Pvt. 1st Class Bob W. Hammer, interred at No. 32 on Oct. 12, 2016
  • George F. Hovey, Air Force, interred at No. 84 on Nov. 2, 2016
  • World War II veteran Edward A. Laufter, Carpenter's Mate, 2nd Class; interred at No. 22 on Oct. 5, 2016
  • Navy Seaman Jerry Q. Lawrence, a Korean War veteran, interred at No. 26 on Oct. 11, 2016
  • Vietnam veteran Petty Ofc. 3rd Class Gary D. Norton, interred at No. 421 on July 18, 2017
  • World War II veteran Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Louis Shaddy, interred at No. 34 on Oct. 12, 2016
  • Seaman James. T. McElmurray, who served as an electronics technician in the Navy, interred at No. 175 on Dec. 19, 2016
  • Vietnam veteran and Army Pvt. 1st Class Vernon A. Peterson, interred at No. 172 on Dec. 16, 2016
  • Air Force Capt. Kathleen Widdersheim, interred at No. 115 on Nov. 14, 2016

In Section 3:

  • Navy Airman Recruit Walter C. Cox, buried at No. 126 on Jan 26, 2018
  • Vietnam veteran Army Pvt. Michael V. LaFreniere, buried at No. 127 on Jan. 29, 2018
  • Vietnam veteran Marine Pvt. Donald Stark, buried at No. 72 on May 23, 2017
  • Korean War veteran Army Sgt. Roger V. Cromey, interred at No. 8 on Oct. 6, 2016

For more information or to volunteer email Mary at