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Veteran experiencing homelessness given funeral with full military honors

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 17:11:42-04

DENVER — When a Colorado funeral home discovered that a homeless man who had passed away recently was also a veteran of the Marine Corps, it stepped up to provide him with a funeral with full military honors.

The Romero Funeral Home is one of several area funeral homes that are a part of a “rotation” with the Denver County Coroner to provide cremation services for those who are homeless, abandoned, or don’t have any family.

In the recent case of a homeless man who had passed away, whose family didn’t want anything to do with him, the funeral home decided to cross-reference his name and information with national cemetery databases.

“It took a few weeks but I finally heard back that he was a veteran,” said Paul Acuna of the funeral home, who is also an Air Force veteran.

Raymond Roy was actually Corporal Raymond Charles Roy of the United States Marine Corps.

“[He served] 1955 through '57 during Korea, the Korean conflict, and so now instead of a cremation, we are able to have full honors for him,” said Acuna.

“No matter what has gone on with his life, he deserves to be honored,” Acuna said

The funeral home donated a casket, and invited area veterans out for a memorial service for a complete stranger. Though no family attended, and the funeral home didn’t even have a photo of the veteran to share, a handful of vets and riders with the Patriot Guard showed up to pay their respects.

“This is what has to be done for this gentleman. Today, we are his family,” Acuna said. “And today, he’s not alone.”

The body of the Marine was then taken to Fort Logan National Cemetery as part of a procession.

“I don’t care if they’re homeless or have a family of 5,000. They deserve this honor,” one honor guard member said.

More veterans, including active duty U.S. Marines, joined in giving Corporal Roy his full military honors, including a gun salute, the ringing of the honor bell, and the playing of Taps.

“When the call of our country was heard, Raymond answered,” the chaplain said.

“Only he knows his story. But today, his story is brotherhood,” Acuna said.

As an American flag was folded on top of the casket, and veterans gave one final salute, the man without a family or a home seemingly found both.

“He’s here amongst his comrades,” Acuna said. “He’s home.”

This story was originally published by Jason Gruenauer at KMGH.