Samuel Mazur, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Missing in America Project
Toby Talbot/AP
An honor guard stands by the remains
during a ceremony for four forgotten

veterans at the
Vermont Veterans

Long Lost Veterans Found and Honored in Vermont

November 11, 2008 10:56 AM
by Anne Szustek
The remains of WWII veteran Samuel Mazur and three other American war veterans received full military honors on Friday before being interned in Vermont.

Forgotten Veterans Honored

During World War II, Master Sgt. Samuel Mazur served in the U.S. military on the European front as a gunner from a B-17 bomber.

The military was his career. He traveled all over the world and became a heavily decorated soldier: for his service he won a Distinguished Flying Cross, the American Theater Ribbon, the World War II victory medal and the Air Medal.

He spent his retirement in his home state of Vermont, decorating his small house with furniture he had made while in Hong Kong, the Associated Press reports. Some 30 years after the war, he succumbed to cancer at a Veterans Administration hospital, without any family members beside him.

“He had an interesting life,” Euclid Farnham, an acquaintance of Mazur, told the AP. “He really did not have anyone.” His furniture was auctioned off for much less than what it was worth. Mazur’s ashes were sent to a funeral home, where they remained on a shelf, unclaimed for decades.

But thanks to the work of the Missing in America Project, Mazur and three other veterans received a full military internment in the Vermont Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery on Nov. 7.

Group founder Fred Salanti said he was inspired to start the foundation when he realized that some forgotten veterans were being buried without full military honors.

“Some of us who are Vietnam veterans, we still have something locked inside of us that makes us want to reach out and honor other veterans,” Salanti told the Associated Press.”

Attending Friday’s funeral for Mazur, World War I Army Pvt. Ralph G. Hemphill and World War II veterans Second Lt. Doris A. Ferriter and Navy Yeoman second class Julius J. Morse were Vermont members of the military and area Gold Star families who lost relatives during the Iraq War.

Bruce Turner, the Vermont state coordinator for the Missing in America Project, believes at there are at least dozens of veterans who have unclaimed remains, who “deserve their final honors.”

Vermont Gold Star mother Marion Gray agrees. She told those gathered at the service, “I don’t know where their families are, but today we are their family,” she told local CBS station WCAX.

Historical Context: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Arlington National Cemetery, located near Washington, D.C. is home to the “Tomb of the Unknowns.” Also known as the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” the sarcophagus has no official name. Congress approved on March 2, 1921 the internment of an unidentified American World War I serviceman. Also buried in the tomb are other unnamed veterans from World War I, World War II, Korea and one who had served in Vietnam.

Reference: Missing in America Project; other ways to help


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