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'Nobody should go home alone': Unclaimed veterans honored at Willamette National Cemetery

Robert Greer, 90, and Jesse Pearce, 55, died without family members left to accept their flags — so others stepped up to honor them.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two unclaimed veterans were honored during a ceremony inside Willamette National Cemetery on Thursday. Neither veteran had any family members to claim or accept their burial flags.

90-year-old Robert Greer died last month, and 55-year-old Jesse Eugene Pearce died in July. Greer was an Army veteran and Pearce was in the Navy.

Pat Moore was Greer's caregiver, and accepted the burial flag on his behalf. 

"He was very quiet," Moore said. "He had a funny streak, had humor, very much independent, didn't like to be told what to do."

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Dana Wilson, who is also a Navy veteran, accepted Pearce's flag even though she did not know him. 

"It's one of the things I can do for veterans," Wilson said. "Nobody should go home alone — I come out for all of these."

A group of Patriot Guard Riders, also veterans, came to stand guard at the ceremony. They formed a "Flag Line" around the ceremony.

"As a veteran, it's humbling to be able to stand for a fallen hero that went before us," said David Carby, ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders.

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Both Pearce and Greer accomplished a lot during their times in the armed forces. Greer received the Korean Service Medal and Pearce won the Bronze Star Medal for his service. 

"This is pretty overwhelming to be honest," Moore said. "To me, it's a great honor."

"I've been doing this a long time, I still have a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat," Carby said. 

The burial services were provided by Lincoln Memorial Park and Funeral Home. It was made possible by the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veteran Burial Program.

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