Six black hearses silently arrived at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery Wednesday bearing the cremains of 25 veterans from World Wars I and II and the Korean conflict.
These are soldiers, sailors and airmen whose remains have been abandoned in funeral homes around New Jersey, located and claimed by the nonprofit organization called Mission of Honor.
"None of our veterans who served our country, fought for our country, gave us the freedom that we have today and the liberty that we enjoy are going to stay on the shelf, in a cardboard box or a tin can," Mission of Honor chairman Francis Carrasco said.
"We bring them home. We give them what they deserve. They are us," Commander Steve Stormer of American Legion Post 294 said.
Their names were read one by one as veterans who never knew them stood to honor their memory and their service
"I think it's an honor to be here and see that these personnel are getting their full military burial, which they deserve," retired Sergeant Major Peter Walker said.
Regardless of why the ashes were abandoned or unclaimed for so many years, it's the goal of the Mission of Honor to see that they are reclaimed and receive a proper burial.
In the last four years, Mission of Honor volunteers have located the ashes of 130 veterans, some left sitting on a shelf for over 60 years.
"They served our country and we are just trying to make sure they get a decent burial," retired Master Sergeant Carrie Matthews said.
"Now they'll have a brass plaque and never be forgotten again and that just makes me able to sleep nights," Mission of Honor vice-chair Jerry Skorch said.