A few days before Thanksgiving this year, James Beavers, a staff sergeant with the US Army during Vietnam, died at the age of 74. However, after searching for family members of Sgt. Beavers for three weeks, no one was able to locate any. However, it was what followed, in both the burial and those in attendance that was simply stunning!
Following Beavers’ death, D. O. McComb and Sons, a local funeral home in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, decided to step up and provide not only funeral services for Beavers, but also burial, with full military honors. Somehow, the news of Beavers’ passing made its way across social media and literally thousands of people showed up at the funeral home to pay their respects to Mr. Beavers, with only a handful of people actually ever meeting him.
Though most of the people never met him, many of those who came to pay their respects were veterans or military family members, something that WANE.com reports is “no match for the bond the military brings.”
“We have each other’s backs. We’re each other’s battle buddies. We’re going to be here for each other regardless of the situations. Whether it’s a stick of butter, a t-shirt that you need to borrow, or a funeral for a person you don’t know, we’re going to be there for you,” said Aimmie Jenkins, who is in the military with her husband. The couple brought their son to show just how much the military community support each other. “We walk up here, and there’s hundreds and hundreds of people that have never met this man, but we’re going to take care of our own.”
“I found it across Facebook, and I felt I needed to be here because it’s a brother in arms. Doesn’t matter what war or who it is, it’s family,” said veteran Ryan Masten, who is from Battle Creek, Michigan.
“We came out today to pay Mr. Beavers the respect that he’s due for his service in Vietnam. Doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have any family members that are known,” said Senior Chaplain Pat Brase with the Indiana Patriot Guard that kept watch for nearly three hours outside the Lakeside Park Chapel. “What matters is that we’re here today to show him that respect. We’re honored to be here. People take time out of their days to do this. There are still a lot of patriotic people in this country and we’re glad to stand their shoulder to shoulder with them today.”
“I think it comes from the fact of how the Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home,” Brase added. “Vietnam was a place that no one liked that all service people hated and it’s just now. There’s folks that are still trying to heal from their experience there. And in some way I hope that this can be a healing experience for some of them today.”
One of those in attendance that actually had met Beavers was Richard Griswold.
Griswold had encountered Beavers a few years back and said, “I kind of had a hunch it would turn out this good. He was an awesome fella that I can remember, spoke to me real kind and everything. It makes my life whole and complete knowing that he did what he did for our country.”
“It was said James didn’t have a family,” said representative from the Vietnam Veterans of America. “Based on the audience here today, I believe he does have a family — and that is all of us.”
Indeed, he did have family, and it appears he has earned the respect of many thousands of Americans, though they have never met him.