A homeless Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart was given full military honors at a funeral at Leavenworth National Cemetery on Thursday morning.
Three weeks ago, 67-year-old Eton Gilmore passed away inside an abandoned home, alone with no family by his side.
Maryannah Mosley, a fellow Vietnam veteran who was friends with Gilmore, knew he deserved more.
"The military was his family," says woman who helped organize service for Eton Gilmore, Purple Heart recipient pic.twitter.com/L7WhMh19jQ
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) February 11, 2016
Gilmore was one of the many homeless veterans Mosley has worked with over the years. She knew his story, and knew the way Gilmore died was not the ending he deserved.
After he passed away, friends went out searching for him.
Gilmore did not keep in contact with his family, so the friends who were helping in the search had no one to reach out to.
Mosley ended up finding Gilmore’s body at the city morgue.
“We looked up the address. We took pictures. Everything was out on the curb. We had to find everything on our own,” she explained. “[The morgue office] said they were just glad someone came forward."
After moving Gilmore away from the morgue, Mosley said money was needed to properly bury him.
Mosley ended up reaching out to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which offered to hold Thursday’s service at Leavenworth National Cemetery free of charge.
“The Army takes care of its own. I wanted to live out the true meaning of that,” Mosley said. “There's so many others that did not get a proper burial."
On Thursday, dozens of soldiers, fellow veterans, and members of the public were on hand to properly honor Gilmore.
Soldiers held a 21-gun salute.
Military transport helicopters flew overhead.
His casket draped with an American flag.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much to the country.
“We just could not believe it,” explained Stan C. Childs, who used to work with Gilmore at a taxi company. “We left the funeral home with just a few cars, but when we arrived here at Leavenworth the motorcycles and the cars were overwhelming. Eton would love this."
Tom Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com.