Unclaimed veterans given full military honors at funeral service

At least 100 people showed up to the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery for the funeral service.
At least 100 people showed up to the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery for the funeral service
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Six veterans received full military honors on Wednesday, in Knox County. A lot of people attended the funeral, despite not knowing any of the veterans.

The six veterans were unclaimed, which means no family claimed their remains when they died. So, other veterans showed up for support.

“I don’t know who any them were, and I would venture to guess that there was no one out here today who knew who any of them were. But that doesn’t matter,” said Chris Albrecht, a Cold War veteran.

Albrecht said he wanted to make sure those veterans got a proper send off. He was one of about 150 people in attendance.

“We were their family today,” Albrecht said. “That’s what made this very, very special.”

The full military honors began with motorcycles leading an escort of the remains from Berry Funeral Home to the cemetery.

The remains were brought inside a small building at the cemetery, where they were given a full funeral service.

A 21-gun salute was performed, and taps was played for the veterans.

Local veteran organizations, like Vietnam Veterans of America and several others, were at the funeral, with the goal of giving a proper send-off to people who served the United States.

“These guys were unclaimed veterans. But they still got the full military honor that they earned,” Albrecht said.

The funeral was part of the Dignity Memorial Homeless/Unclaimed Veteran Burial Program.

Full military honors were given to the following veterans:

- Sergeant First Class Jerry Alan Palmer (1950-2022), US Army, Retired (1968-1988), Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

- Specialist 5 David Brent Bledsoe (1952-2021), US Army 1972-1978), US Army Medical Research Institute-Infectious Disease, Fort Detrick, Maryland.

- Private First-Class Terrell Wayne Biggerstaff, Jr. (1960-2022), US Army (1980-1982), Company C. 1st Battalion, 58th Infantry.

- Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Charles Robert McMeans (1956-1962), US Army Armor School, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

- Private Frederick Joseph Chase (1956-2021), US Army (1976-1977), Company C., 4th Battalion, 3rd Basic Combat Training, Fort Dix, New Jersey.

- Private Paul Deen Alexander (1957-2022), US Army (1975), Company C., 11th Battalion, 5th Basic Combat, Training, Fort Knox, Kentucky.