Remains of 15 veterans unclaimed by family finally given full military funeral

·4 min read

A memorial service was held today honoring 15 United States veterans from Westmoreland County whose cremains were never claimed by family — some dating back to 1993.

Today’s tribute started with a ceremony at Hempfield Park in Greensburg.

“There’s a story behind each of these veterans. Some may have stood shoulder to shoulder with their brother and sister in arms on the battlefield, while others may have served our country protecting our freedom in the cold war,” said Brigadier General John R. Pippy, Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The 15 veterans were from four branches of the military — the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force. They served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II, including two brothers from WWII.

“I think this is the greatest thing ever. It’s about time we put these veterans to rest that served our county,” said one of the attendees, Joe Zelenak, Commander of Mt. Pleasant VFW Post 3368.

Efforts to find family members to claim the veterans’ cremains were unsuccessful, so their ashes sat in a box on the floor at the Westmoreland County coroner’s office for all these years.

“We may never know why they were left unclaimed, but we do know that as of today, they will never be forgotten,” Pippy said.

Westmoreland County Coroner Timothy Carson thanked the Missing in America Project Veteran Recovery Program for helping the coroner’s office to identify the veterans, and for making it possible to give them the send-off they deserved.

“These veterans served our country and deserve more than sitting in an evidence room. We can never repay our veterans for the sacrifices they have made, but what we can do is give them a proper final resting place with honor and dignity. We must give these veterans the respect they deserve, while honoring them for their service to our county,” Carson said.

Following the memorial service, fellow veterans, along with Pennsylvania State Police, escorted a funeral procession to the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville. The 15 veterans were honored with a full military funeral and laid to rest.

Here are the names of the 15 unclaimed veterans, including their rank, branch, character of service, dates of military service, war period, and dates death:

1. Eugene P. Constantino

SGT U.S. Air Force

Honorable 6/24/65-12/11/68

Vietnam

10/5/2009

2. Donald E. Rush

Navy: FR

Army: PVT

U.S. Navy

U.S. Army

Honorable Navy: 5/10/74-7/13/77

Army: 3/11/81-7/2/84

N/A 8/11/2017

3. Craig Beddle

AMHAN U.S. Navy

Honorable 6/23/69-6/28/71

Vietnam

12/13/2020

4. Robert A. Ottaviani

Airman 2nd Class

U.S. Air Force

Honorable 9/15/64-2/16/67

Vietnam

12/25/2020

5. Michael Bidzilla

AMN U.S. AirForce

Honorable 5/30/78-5/19/80

None

3/5/2021

6. David Sage

PFC U.S. Marine Corps

Under Honorable Conditions 6/16/70-12/17/73

Vietnam

10/14/2019

7. Roger J. Hudak

LCPL U.S. Marine Corps

Honorable 7/30/75-7/17/78

None

8/18/2020

8. Larry B. Frye

Sp4 U.S. Army

Honorable 9/11/67-8/23/1969

Vietnam

12/23/2016

9. Bruce S. Herer

PFC U.S. Army

Honorable 10/30/58-10/24/60

None

1/8/2019

10. William M. Kenton

PFC U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Honorable 6/18/56-4/9/58

None

12/14/2008

11. Otis L. Davenport

PVT U.S. Marine Corps

Honorable 8/27/70-9/25/70

Vietnam

5/21/2019

12. Lawrence M. Jenkins

SR U.S. Navy

Honorable 1/25/62-4/5/62

None

3/23/2020

13. Matthew Bowman

SK1 U.S. Navy

Honorable 5/24/50-3/15/54 ; 7/15/71-9/30/77

Korea/Vietnam

5/14/2019

14. Clayton F. Moyer

SSGT U.S. Army

Honorable 1/24/44-3/11/46

WWII

1/29/1993

15. William J. Moyer

SSGT U.S. Army

Honorable 11/10/43-11/27/45

WWII

7/7/1995

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