A homeless Arizona Army veteran got the funeral he deserved today, after hundreds of people answered a call for help on Facebook.
Pfc. Jimmie Smith has no family. Despite bravely serving his country, the 60-year-old died alone.
The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services did its part to make sure the veteran was not alone during his memorial service in Sierra Vista, near Tucson.
The department asked community members to attend Smith’s funeral in place of his family, to give a man who fought for his country a proper send-off.
“About 500 people came to show their support for him. Most of them never met him, but still wanted to pay their respects,” said Nita Freeman, an Interment Specialist at Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery.
Smith served in the U.S. Army from September 1975 until August 1977 before getting discharged from Fort Bliss in Texas, according to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services.
“Our mission is to provide a lasting, final benefit in honor of our veterans,” said Freeman. “We just want to provide him with a resting place in appreciation of his service and sacrifice.”
Patriot Guard Riders escorted Smith’s urn to the cemetery Thursday morning, where he received military honors.
“Someone who knew him (said) a few words. … The only thing missing is his family,” said Freeman.
The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services does not know anything about Smith’s family or last relatives. That’s why they “asked the community (to) stand in for them and honor his life.”
“Smith was a simple man. He would be surprised and feel special by how many people came out,” said Freeman.
“Arizona is very supportive of its veterans. We’ve received outpouring support from the community, showing their support and respect for Pfc. Smith,” said Freeman. “That says a lot about Arizonans. They don’t know him, but they know he’s a veteran, and that’s enough for them to get behind the effort to give him a proper interment.”
He was laid to rest at Southern Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery this morning.
Details surrounding Smith’s death are unclear.
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