KILLEEN, Texas — When a veteran passes away, the Veterans Land Board and the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery make sure there are people at the burial service to honor the fallen soldier in place of next of kin.
There were over 100 people from all around Central Texas who went to the burial for the unaccompanied soldier – a man they never met.
U.S. Army specialist Billy Mark Guinn passed away on August 11, and no next of kin was present at the burial.
Even though there were no blood relatives there, one man looked into the crowd and said, “As I look at this crowd, I can’t believe the word ‘unaccompanied.'”
Gary Meissner served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970.
“This is a brother. Served, defended this country,” Meissner said. “And I wasn’t gonna let him go by himself.”
Guinn served in the Army from 1974 to 1976. He received the National Defense Service Medal and a marksmanship badge.
“He served honorably,” Doug Gault, of the VLB said. “Nobody understands why the veteran is unaccompanied, so it’s great to involve the community and the veteran organizations to this because they support the veterans.”