Final Journey Home

Remains of Homeless Veterans to be Interred in San Antonio

AMARILLO - After sitting on county shelves collecting dust, the remains of four U.S. veterans are finally going home.

The Missing in America Project (MIAP) identified six urns with cremated remains of U.S. veterans sitting on a shelf in Potter county.

Those veterans were homeless when they died and their remains had gone unclaimed.

Two of which have since been claimed by family members.

The others have not.

Now, those final four are getting the proper interment they deserve.

"Hey, thanks for being here. I couldn't be more proud." Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said, greeting the dozens of members of the San Antonio chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders early Thursday morning.

Their final stop is the Alamo city where these veterans will be interred at the Sam Houston National Cemetery:

       Seaman Apprentice Jerry Harris - U.S. Navy

       Specialist Laird Orton, Jr. - U.S. Army

       Senior Airman Micheal Papinchak - U.S. Air Force

       Sgt. Michael Topp - U.S. Air Force

As the Patriot Guard Riders make their way south, they had scheduled stops and ceremonies in Lubbock, Sweetwater, and Boerne before their final stop in the San Antonio.

Jean Clark with the San Antonio Patriot Guard Riders said they were first only asked to provide a procession for the memorial service in San Antonio.

But, they decided to go one step further. Dozens of them drove to Amarillo to provide an escort all the way to their final resting place.

"The veterans are a brotherhood and we take care of our own and what we're doing now is we're taking our brothers home. Vietnam veterans especially have not been welcomed home, so we're going to take them home." Clark said.

Services with full military honors will be held for all four veterans at the Sam Houston National Cemetery Friday 10 a.m.

A local mortuary company discovered the veterans' remains in Potter county.

The A to D Mortuary heard about the Missing in America Project and decided to see if there were any unclaimed remains of veterans in potter county.

Once they started digging, it took them ten months to get to this point where the Vets are finally going home.

MIAP started ten years ago. In that time, they've identified the remains of more than three thousand homeless veterans that went unclaimed.

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