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Special Service Friday Honors Lives of Unclaimed Iowa Veterans and Spouse

ADEL, Iowa – Thanks to a partnership, five unclaimed veterans and one spouse will be laid to rest in a ceremony Friday.

The partnership between Hamilton’s Funeral Home and the Missing in America Project allowed them to share information between one another to help identify the unclaimed.

Hamilton’s Funeral Home Director Lanae Strovers said, “If their discharge papers are on file at Polk County it’s a lot easier. Some of these veterans we had to call down to St. Louis, to different towns. I had a sweet lady in Nebraska that actually helped me try and locate discharge papers.”

Strovers said there are currently 150 unmarked urns at the funeral home they are trying to identify. None of them are veterans.

People being honored on Friday are:

  •  Verl Anderson - served in the U.S. Navy during WWII
    • December 11, 1923-March 25, 2002
  • Howard Duncan served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was awarded a Purple Heart
    • December 21, 1921-December 15, 2005
  • Larry Gardner served in the U.S. Army
    • December 22, 1962-December 18, 2003
  • Victor Sundberg served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War
    • August 4, 1921-June 30, 2018
  • John “Jack” Thiel served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War
    • December 20, 1933-January 3, 2002
  • Veteran spouse Nettie Hines - Husband Raymond Hines who served in U.S. Army
    • February 7, 1901-May 3, 2000

Nettie Hines' husband Raymond Hines was laid to rest in 2018 during the unclaimed veterans' service. Nettie’s urn will be reunited in the same niche as her husband.

In 2018 the unclaimed veteran’s service saw around 200 people attend.

Strovers said the partnership with the Missing in American Project helped identify the veterans.

“They were able to go through, look at all the names, look at the details and let us know who served and who is eligible to be buried out here at Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery," Strovers said.

Governor Kim Reynolds, the Iowa State Patrol, and others will be in attendance.

Iowa Department of Veteran’s Affairs Karl J. Lettow said, “When something like this happens people show out. We always think about the other veterans and people who share similar stories but at the same time the wealth and gratitude that Iowans have a tendency to show towards people that they know who have done something for them, who have protected their life is absolutely tremendous.”

Des Moines Metro Escort Service Owner Ivan Olson said he provides a free vehicle to all veteran services to honor their service.

“It’s going to be a closure to a lot of families and to give them the respect and honor they deserve,” Olson said.

The service begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Hamilton’s Funeral Home in West Des Moines. It is located at  3601 Weston Parkway, West Des Moines.

The service will continue at the Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery located at 34024 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adel where they will have a final resting place. The public is welcome to attend.

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