Strangers attend funeral of Ardmore vet with no known family, friends

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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII)-- An Ardmore veteran was laid to rest Thursday morning, but without friends or family, one community member stepped in to make sure he wouldn't be buried alone.

"Anybody that serves, they deserve a proper burial," Patriot Guard Rider Doug Williams said. "And nobody should ever be buried without people there."

78-year-old Jack Vail was a Vietnam veteran, a group of servicemen who weren't treated all that well when they returned home.

"They were spit on, they were called baby killers, they were abused. I saw it." Williams said.

Williams, a Vietnam veteran himself, believes all veterans deserve respect. That's why when he came across Vail's obituary Wednesday, he knew he had to act.

"This gentleman didn't have any family, and there may not be anyone at the service, and I said, this cannot happen," Williams said. "So I put a post and Facebook, and got an overwhelming response."

Nearly 50 strangers attended Vail's service, like Iraq army vet Matthew Hamilton, who actually doesn't consider himself a stranger at all.

"I know they say there was no family present, but there was actually at least a dozen of us that may not be blood relatives, but are definitely service relatives." Hamilton said.

And for Sandy Rowley, who received his flag on the behalf of the Veteran's Center where Vail lived for the last 11 years, the support is overwhelming.

"It just kind of makes you choke up," Rowley said. "You know, the patriotism is awesome."

As for the future of that flag?

"We will actually use it inside the facility, for instance in the recreation hall where he spent a lot of time," Rowley said. "It will be flown in his honor."

And Williams said honor was what the funeral was all about.

"Nobody knew this gentleman, be he got put away with the respect he deserved." Williams said.

Rowley says there are many veterans at the center just like Vail, and she encourages anyone to come by and visit a stranger who would appreciate the support.

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