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Remains of 15 veterans found in storage of coroner’s office

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 8:38 AM CDT
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HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WTAE) - When a new Pennsylvania coroner took office in January, he was surprised to find 57 unclaimed sets of remains in storage at his office.

After doing some research, he found that 15 of those belonged to U.S. veterans. Now those veterans will be getting the full military honors they deserve.

Tim Carson said it started with a conversation with other coroners in the state over what to do with boxes he found in the Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office that contained the remains of 57 people that have gone unclaimed for years, some dating back to 1993.

They knew who they were, but no family members had ever come forward.

After a few conversations, Carson said he reached out to a veteran’s group in Arizona to do some research.

“It was determined that we have 15 United States veterans in our possession here at the forensic center,” Carson said.

Upon learning that, Carson said his approach shifted.

“I definitely feel that it’s, you know, disgrace to all our veterans who served and, and that to, you know, for them to be just in a, in a room, in a box on a floor,” he said.

Carson said a company has also volunteered concrete, and he’s looking for volunteers to build a mausoleum at the cemetery near the Westmoreland County Jail to create a final resting place for the other unclaimed remains.

Meanwhile, those 15 veterans are now set to receive full military honors for the service scheduled for July.

“Vietnam vets, World War II. I think it’s very important. And I think ... I just know how the people in Westmoreland County are, and they take care of their veterans. And I just think that this will be a good, you know, good closure,” Carson said.

The veterans will be buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies on July 15.

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