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50 people give two forgotten veterans the burial they deserved

Pfc. Jethro Rancy of Fort Stewart, Ga., plays taps during the burial of two U.S. servicemen who died recently in the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Charleston. No family or friends claimed their bodies, so veteran organizations arranged their burial Thursday with full military honors at Beaufort National Cemetery.
Pfc. Jethro Rancy of Fort Stewart, Ga., plays taps during the burial of two U.S. servicemen who died recently in the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Charleston. No family or friends claimed their bodies, so veteran organizations arranged their burial Thursday with full military honors at Beaufort National Cemetery. BOB SOFALY | The Beaufort Gazette

More than 50 people turned out for a memorial service Thursday at Beaufort National Cemetery for two Vietnam veterans whose bodies went unclaimed by family members for more than a month.

Active-duty Marines and sailors, Beaufort residents, government officials and members of local veterans service organizations gathered under a small pavilion at the cemetery to pay their respects to Army Lt. Terry Marshall Luse and Airman John G. Federspiel.

Luse, a Waco, Texas, native, died at age 64 March 17 at the Charleston Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Federspiel was 63 when he died March 29 at the same hospital. Information on Federspiel's birthplace was not available.

Luse and Federspiel received full military honors from honor guards from the Army and Air Force, respectively.

Upon hearing of the service from another area veteran, Reuben Cedeno, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Lowcountry Chapter 1948, fired off a string of e-mails and phone calls to members of his chapter and other veterans groups in the Beaufort area to encourage attendance.

Cedeno saidit his duty to honor the service of Luse and Federspiel.

"We leave no man behind," he said. "When we have something like this, where these guys had no friends and no family, as a community we have to come chip in together to support these men. It is my duty to come here today to pay my respects to them for their service."

Luse joined the Army on Dec. 7, 1961, and served with the 17th Calvary until December 1968.

Federspiel served from 1965-69.

Bowse said biographical information on veterans without family can be hard to come by.

"Sometimes you can't get a whole lot," he said. "We have probably one of these a year. If you have an indigent veteran -- like these two were -- with no family or friends to speak of, other veterans step in and become their family. We try to have the veterans come in and be their family and honor them before they're buried."

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