Mortician Richard Smart is a veteran, so it hurt him to know there were unclaimed remains of men who served their country, sitting around in storage.
“Gentleman as teenagers, that were overseas fighting for our freedom and our country, they deserve a proper burial,” said Smart.
But no next of kin was there to give them that, so on Thursday, Smart helped do it for them.
“Today’s the day that they get to take their final journey home,” said Smart.
In a ceremony, the remains were passed on to Chaplain Rikki Perkins.
“All of our freedoms, they were there to help us receive them, therefore its important to me to find a final resting place for each and every one of them,” said Perkins.
On Friday, Perkins will drive to Butte, escorted by vets on motorcycles. She’ll meet up with a similar procession carrying Billings-area vets. They’ll travel as one to the Montana State Veteran’s Cemetery at Fort Harrison.
“I am looking very much forward to the fact that they have found a final resting place,” said Perkins. “Some of these guys have passed away a long time ago, and it’s time.”
This was all thanks to the Missing in America project, a group determined to make sure those who served, make it to their final resting place. It is what they call their task of redemption, their way, just like Smart’s, to say thank you to a stranger that served their country.