Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Finally, Full Military Honors; Serviceman's Remains Went Unclaimed until the Missing in America Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Finally, Full Military Honors; Serviceman's Remains Went Unclaimed until the Missing in America Project

Article excerpt

Byline: William Browning

Raymond Regis Garrity, 71, died a year ago on Jan. 26.

He had paid for his funeral arrangements and was cremated at Corey-Kerlin Funeral Homes in Jacksonville. But he had no family or friends to claim him or give him a burial. His remains were put in storage, where they sat for months and months.

Late last year a, group led by Robert Morgan contacted the funeral home. Morgan is the assistant state coordinator in Florida for the Missing In America Project, a national nonprofit that tries to find the remains of unclaimed veterans. The volunteer group's goal is to get those remains buried with full military honors.

Morgan, a veteran who lives in Jacksonville, asked the funeral home if it had any unclaimed remains. After receiving Garrity's name, Morgan sent his information to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA eventually got back with Morgan. Garrity, it turned out, had served in the Navy in 1958 and '59.

Friday morning, Morgan and a handful of volunteers, along with a representative from the funeral home, oversaw a brief service for Garrity at Jacksonville National Cemetery. The Patriot Guard came and so did the Honor Guard from Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

"This program to me is very rewarding," Morgan said. "It's painstaking work at times and slow. But this is what it is all about. If it wasn't for these volunteers, this gentleman would still be sitting there."

Nationally the group has buried roughly 1,800 veterans. Throughout Florida it has sent the names and dates of birth of more than 200 remains found in funeral homes to the VA. In Jacksonville 39 veterans have been identified. The group is waiting to hear back on approximately 77 names, according to Morgan.

Garrity is the second veteran to be laid to rest by Missing In America in Northeast Florida.

Last summer the group buried its first veteran: Clarence Harrison Hill Jr. …

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