BRANDON, Fla. — Bay Area veterans and law enforcement made sure a Vietnam veteran who had no family to claim his body was laid to rest with honor.
Thomas Trunk was a U.S. Marine Vietnam veteran, but when he passed away three months ago there was no one to contact.
“Unfortunately, the medical examiner, nor our office could find a next of kin. So I became the next of kin,” said Vicki Carden of Dignity Memorial Stowers Funeral Home.
Carden had only met Trunk a handful of times while helping him preplan his cremation more than a year ago.
“I never knew I was going to be part of his world in doing what we’re doing today,” said Carden.
David Allen is with James Haley Veterans Hospital and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and helps organize the Final Mile tribute for unclaimed vets. He and dozens of others veterans came to make sure the Vietnam vet was honored with the dignity he deserved.
“Those veterans, they came home to a bad time in this country and they weren’t appreciated for their service so it’s even more important to show appreciation for them,” said Allen.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office had nearly 30 officers from their motor unit help give Trunk a motorcycle procession to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell for a military burial.
“These are America’s sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. So there should be no such thing as no next of kin. He’s our brother,” said Allen.