Community gives unclaimed veteran full military honors funeral

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A military veteran with no family or loved ones to claim his body was laid to rest with full military honors at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Thursday.

Aubrey Gene Laney, 77, was a United States Coast Guard veteran. Laney died May 17.

Memphis Funeral Home, who found out Laney had no family or loved ones to claim him, chose to honor his service by providing him with a full military honors funeral. They requested the Patriot Guard to escort Laney's body and stand guard as his family.

However, it was more than the Patriot Guard who showed up to claim Laney and honor his service.

Representatives from the United States Coast Guard, American Legion, The Real Army Wives, and members of the community gathered to honor Laney and give him a proper funeral.

"Today we give thanks to a man who loved his country, who served his country, and who protected his country," Memphis Funeral Home staff celebrant Jonathan Matthews said. "Our flag is a flag that he defended. The flag of the red, white, and blue is a flag he saluted. Today, we come to give honor to whom honor is due."

Officials with the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery said there is "no such thing as an unclaimed veteran" at the cemetery. They said those who came out to the funeral claimed him and honored him in the way he deserved.

Laney, who was born in West Memphis, Arkansas, enlisted in the Coast Guard at the age of 19 in St. Louis, Missouri on September 29, 1959. He received an honorable discharge from the Coast Guard on February 11, 1960.

Founder of The Real Army Wives, Andrea Lynne Cory, widow of LTC Rennie M. Cory Jr, said it is the nation's obligation to honor every veteran.

"Throughout U.S. history, our military has defended the liberties we hold so dear. Therefore, it is America's obligation to honor its veterans, each and every one. No matter which mission, what war, or time in service, no service member is better than another," Cory said. "A military can only be as good as its service members -- each service member -- and our military happens to be the finest in the world."

Cory said that every citizen has the personal obligation to honor our nation's service members.

"Each service member represents all soldiers, the traditions we have of honoring them speaks to those left standing," Cory said. "It is a personal obligation to honor our service members, every one of them."

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