Vietnam Marine and Purple Heart recipient Glenn Shelton laid to rest as almost 300 strangers attend his Memorial Service

 
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Vietnam Marine and Purple Heart recipient Glenn Shelton laid to rest as almost 300 strangers attend his Memorial Service

It started last week with a report by Kevin Rader of Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR:

It is hard enough to bury a loved one. It's yet another matter to bury someone whose loved ones can't be found.

In this case, it's a veteran.

It is not something anyone expects. You serve your country and you have reason to believe you will always have a place in it. Marines have a motto that says "The Marines Build Men," but that is not the question.

The question now is: who will be there to bury one?

The answer as it turns out is his brothers, or at least his brothers in arms, including huge contingents of Marines as well as members of Indiana Veterans Service Organizations.

The sanctuary at Allisonville Christian Church was nearly full Saturday afternoon for the funeral service of a Marine who died with no known family.

Eyewitness News first brought you the story Tuesday of Vietnam War veteran Glenn Shelton, who died in Indiana with no known family or friends. The response to our stories this week from Kevin Rader about this veteran who no one apparently knew brought such a large response that the funeral was moved to a bigger venue.

The veterans in the pews did not know the Marine in the casket draped with the American flag. But they answered the call to honor a brother.

"Coming and showing our solidarity and showing the love for a brother that we don't know really helps other veterans,” said [VFW District 11 Commander Russell] Pryor. “It helps those that are homeless, those that are dealing with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), PTSDs (post traumatic stress disorder) and moral injuries."

I attended this Memorial Service, and although I’m not great with crowd estimates, I can say that the church was packed, and there were so many cars that some had to park across the street.  Here’s some pretty good videos which shows how many were there:

 

The man who presided over the event was El Ahlwardt, a Legionnaire and former Navy Commander who was called into action even though he didn’t know Marine Private Shelton,  “I pray that this ceremony that will do honor to this stranger known only to God.  I don’t know if Marine Private Shelton was a husband or a father, but we know he was somebody’s son and we know he was a Marine.”

Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana also sent his respects, quoting General McArthur who said  “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”  Donnelly continued “this statement is certainly true as it relates to Mr. Shelton.  His contributions and service to his fellow Marines and his country will never be forgotten.”

I asked Ron Ordelheide, Southern Vice Commander for the Department of Indiana why it is that attending this was so important that Legionnaires from across Indiana and Kentucky came out on a Saturday.  He answered with a wry smile, “This is what we do.  Veterans serving veterans.  We’ll always show up for something like this.”

Clifton Morlan, Commander of Post 360 which is on the IUPUI campus here in Indianapolis agreed.  “It’s important that we show up and pay tribute to those who went before us, especially when like here there isn’t anyone else to attend.”

And so, as the Memorial Service concluded, and Private Shelton went to his eternal resting place, he did so with hundreds of brothers and sisters he never met attending and standing tribute to his service in Vietnam.

 

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.