Hundreds Honor Marine Veteran Who Died Alone

( – Hundreds of people have gathered to honor an elderly veteran who passed away in a nursing home after a funeral home requested volunteers to serve as the deceased veteran’s pallbearers.

86-year-old Marine veteran Gerry Brooks passed away at a Maine nursing home back in May, but the nursing home’s staff couldn’t find any of Brooks’s family members when planning his funeral. The funeral home overseeing Brooks’s burial also failed to find any surviving family members and decided to ask the public for help. After posting a notice about the deceased veteran, hundreds contacted the nursing home to offer assistance.

According to the Riposta Funeral Home, its staff had to turn away potential pallbearers minutes after the initial notice went viral due to a massive influx of offers from members of the public. Other people also contacted the funeral home to offer services, including a bagpiper who wanted to play during Brooks’s funeral. A pilot also contacted the Riposta Funeral Home and wanted to do a celebratory flyover during the veteran’s burial ceremony.

Various veteran organizations around Maine also wanted to join in the ceremony and offered to participate in Brooks’s funeral in any capacity. The Riposta Funeral Home buried Brooks on June 20 and had hundreds of attendees. The military also sent people to the ceremony, who buried Brooks with full military honors at the memorial cemetery located in Augusta, Maine. The Patriot Guard Riders, a well-known veteran’s organization, also participated in the event.

The Patriot Guard Riders are known for joining in veteran funerals and often help escort funeral hearses transporting veterans. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted Brooks’s hearse from Belfast to Augusta, a trip totaling more than 40 miles. The Veterans of Foreign Wars also joined the ceremony and had service members perform a 21-gun salute to celebrate Brooks’s career in the Marine Corps. Most of the people who attended the ceremony didn’t know Brooks and only showed up to help celebrate the life of a veteran.

Despite the funeral home’s failure to find Brooks’s surviving relatives, the deceased veteran did have living family members upon his death. Brooks’s family also attended the event but didn’t speak about Brooks or help plan the funeral. The Veterans of Foreign Wars stepped in to help organize the ceremony and celebrate Brooks’s life, with several members of the organization describing the process of organizing the event as “an honor.”

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