PHOENIX — The remains of more than a dozen veterans were laid to rest Wednesday in a special ceremony at the National Memorial Veterans Cemetery in North Phoenix.
The remains of the 14 Veterans and two spouses of veterans were identified by the Missing in America Veterans Recovery Program, a nonprofit that works with state agencies and private funeral homes to search for veterans who were previously unidentified.
“Today was all about fulfilling a promise to these veterans when they served,” said Cary Cartter, an Arizona chaplain and volunteer with the Missing in America Veterans Recovery Program.
By all appearances, Private First-Class Floyd Smith’s life wasn’t easy after he left the army. Estranged from his children, Smith died in late 2022 with no family by his side.
“We just found out two months after he passed away, that he passed away,” said Robert Smith, Floyd’s son.
PFC Smith was just one of the 16 people honored at the recent ceremony.
“It brings closure to that chapter in our life,” said Robert Smith. “This ceremony was well put together.”
“We appreciate things like this done for people who don’t have families,” added Ashley Curiel, PFC Smith’s daughter. “Like us, we’re the last two [of his family] so, we appreciate this being put together. We weren’t notified for two months, and they were able to make the arrangements for us. We didn’t even know he was sick, prior.”
Honoring the forgotten
The names of Smith and the other 15 people honored were read with a ringing of a bell. Flags were presented by Honor Guard members to any family members who were in attendance; a reminder of the service and sacrifice that the veterans and their families made for their country.
“From the veteran’s standpoint, they are receiving the honors they were promised, and I hope that’s the least someone does for me,” said an emotional Cartter. “The bottom line is this is the right thing to do for those who served.”
PFC Floyd Smith and the other 15 veterans and spouses will be laid to rest in the National Memorial Veterans Cemetery, while Ashley and Robert no longer must question the fate of their father. The siblings can now grieve his passing in their own way.
THOSE WHO SERVE
12News is honoring the brave people who are currently serving and have served in the United States's armed forces.