CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WMC/WRCB) - U.S. Army veteran Richard “Lance” Deal died last week, leaving behind no family to attend his funeral, but his community wouldn’t let his death go unnoticed.
WRCB reports Deal was a corporal in the Army from 1982 to 1986. He was 57 when he passed.
“And basically there was just going to be a burial of a veteran and I simply said that wasn’t right,” said Mickey McCamish, a retired Navy captain.
McCamish started making calls when he learned of Deal’s passing, making sure the Army veteran would have a full service.
The Chattanooga National Funeral Home donated a full service, including a casket, hearse and director. Three ministers and a color guard volunteered for the service.
"Chattanooga is such a patriotic community and my experience has been that Chattanooga is so caring when it comes to veterans," said McCamish.
He says Deal, who McCamish met earlier this year, had his fair share of struggles in life, including homelessness. When the two veterans met, McCamish said that Deal was in a period of transformation.
"At that point he was in the process of moving out of an extended stay hotel into a home and at the same time was applying for a job at Goodwill," said McCamish.
Deal got that job at Goodwill where Kimberly Crider, the director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program at Goodwill, watched him grow.
"He worked hard, everything that he did he tried to do well," said Crider. "Once he got into it and got into what he was doing, he just gave it his all."
Deal was helping with logistics in the transportation department. She says his quirky sense of humor was endearing to everyone who worked with him.
"He made great strides, just the last few months of his life when he came into the program his whole attitude changed," said Crider.
"I think it says a lot about Lance that he was an individual that recognized the state he was in but what he wanted to do was he wanted to remove himself from that state," said McCamish.
On Wednesday, Deal’s Goodwill family was there to stand by him.
"So we have been a part of his family," said Crider.
Deal was buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery with dozens of strangers in attendance.
"We wouldn't have the freedoms that we have today without the veterans and it shows appreciation to a veteran like Lance," said McCamish.