TroubleShooters: Honoring a New Jersey veteran's final wish

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In a special Veteran's Day edition of Action News TroubleShooters, we are helping the children of a local veteran honor his final wish. (WPVI)

What could be more important than honoring our parents' final wishes and laying them to rest in a peaceful place of their choice?

That's all a daughter and son in Burlington County were trying to do, when they came across a very aggravating roadblock.

"He loved the navy. He always wanted to go back to Puerto Rico where he was stationed," said Linda Rego.

William Frederick Kaeser joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 and his final wish 70 years later was that he and his late wife be laid to rest with his comrades.

"He always wanted to be buried in a veteran's cemetery," said Bill Kaeser.

"It really meant a lot to him," said Linda.

To honor his wish, Kaeser's children Bill and Linda contacted the William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, New Jersey.

"He wanted it here because all of his children are here and we could go and visit," said Linda.

However one of the eligibility requirements to be buried at this cemetery is that the veteran or service member must have established legal residence in New Jersey prior to death or have been a legal resident of the state for at least 50 percent of his or her lifetime.

While Kaeser retired to Florida and passed away there this past July, he was born in the Garden State and lived here for 63 years.

He got married in New Jersey and raised his whole family there - but getting documentation of that proved to be a challenge for his children.

"It's just not available, so we've gone to different places to find it but we can't find any information at all," said Bill.

State and federal agencies told Bill and Linda the records they were seeking were too old to access.

"It's just been terrible. We just don't know where to turn anymore," said Linda.

So the Kaeser children turned to the Action News TroubleShooters.

We contacted the superintendent of the state cemetery.

First Sergeant Iven Dumas listened to the Kaeser's story, then just hours after we got off the phone with him - Bill and Linda were told the cemetery would help them honor their father's final wish.

"I just want to say that I am so happy that this finally happened and my dad's wish finally came true and they're at peace now. I really don't think it would have happened without Channel 6 helping us," said Linda.

"I'm glad we got my parents where they belong and my father in the veteran's cemetery. But advice for other people would be to register with the veteran cemetery early so this doesn't happen to them where it's hard to get them into a veteran's cemetery," said Bill.

And that is very important advice.

First Sergeant Iven Dumas, superintendent of William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, also gave the following advice in a statement:

The best tip I can offer is pre-registration. That allows us to determine eligibility prior to the time of need. I have included a link, the form can be found there. Here's a short list of documents that we will accept as a proof source for residency. If these items are not available we recommend a notarized time line. I would also suggest providing a notarized, sworn affidavit from someone that knew the veteran while he or she was a resident of NJ. The website can usually answer most questions, but if a veteran needs additional information they should call our interment office at (609) 738-2400.


i. A Current New Jersey Driver's License;

ii. A New Jersey Voter's Registration Card;

iii. A paid New Jersey real estate tax bill;

iv. A deed to New Jersey property;

v. Utility bills with the veteran's name and New Jersey address appearing thereon; or

vi. Other similar legal documentation indicating New Jersey residency.

For more information visit www.nj.gov/military/cemetery/burial.html

And if you need help with a problem visit 6abc.com/troubleshooters, email troubleshooters@abc.com, or through our Call for Action volunteers by calling 1-866-978-4232.

Related Topics:
veteranveterans dayn.j. newsaction news troubleshootersWrightstown
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