Military News

Service at military cemetery ensures someone who cares will be there

Coast residents have expressed interest in knowing how to sign up to attend funerals at Biloxi National Cemetery for veterans who have no family.
Coast residents have expressed interest in knowing how to sign up to attend funerals at Biloxi National Cemetery for veterans who have no family. ttisbell@sunherald.com File

How can the community help pay final respects to veterans who might not have family on the Coast?

It’s as easy as an email.

A story the Sun Herald published this week about six Long Beach High School students who served as pallbearers for a Navy veteran who had no family here touched a chord with South Mississippians, many of whom have ties to the military.

The young men were the only witnesses, outside of a military honor guard and the funeral home staff, at the ceremony when Jerry Wayne Pino was laid to rest Tuesday at Biloxi National Cemetery.

The good news is anyone can be notified for a service held once a month for service members who are buried with no service, whether that person is an unclaimed veteran, or “Forgotten Hero,” or someone whose family could not attend the burial at Biloxi National Cemetery.

Celethia Reed, the cemetery director at Biloxi National Cemetery, said she is combining the Forgotten Heroes program and the unattended-service program into a single service each month. Held at 2:30 p.m. the last Thursday of each month, the service will allow anyone on an email list to come and pay respects to those who did not have a service when they were buried.

Anyone who wishes to be notified can call Biloxi National Cemetery at 228-388-6668 and provide an email address. That person will then be sent an email reminding them of the service.

One commenter on the Sun Herald website asked why notifications aren’t sent to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi or the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport to allow airmen or Seabees to attend, which would fulfill community-service obligations.

An official at the cemetery said a specific email address has to be provided in order for people to be added to the list. They can’t do a base notification.

Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy

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