PORTLAND, Ore. — The remains of 28 unclaimed men and women, and 9 spouses of veterans were buried Wednesday at Willamette National Cemetery.

The Missing In America Project, a national nonprofit, was behind the funeral today. Volunteers spent years finding, identifying and making sure these veterans received a proper military burial.

When remains go unclaimed, they can sit on the shelf of a funeral home for years. Depending on state laws, most will go unclaimed for up to five years. After that, funeral homes can spread the ashes or keep them.

"They keep them, because they hope that someone will come one day and it's something they think they can come do. So while legally, they can be done with the task of keeping these remains, they keep them," said Chris Hawes, the North Oregon state coordinator for the Missing In America Project.

Of those buried at Willamette National Cemetery on Wednesday, 16 served in the Army, 6 served in the Navy, 2 from the Marines, 2 served in the Air Force, and 1 was a Merchant Marine.

Robert B. Donnelly served in World War I and died in 1940. For 78 years, his remains sat on a shelf, unclaimed.

"It's sad, but we can't undo the tragedy of the time. We can make it so it doesn't continue and we end the waiting for the 28 and the 9 spouses today," Hawes said.

No longer unclaimed, no longer forgotten :

  • Victor J. Lee; Army
  • Andrew M. Smith; Army
  • Robert C. Howard, Jr.; Navy
  • Rodney R. Cochran; Army
  • Claude A. Halbleib; Army
  • George W. Sibbald; Army
  • William A. Baakkonen; Army
  • Henry W. Callahan; Army
  • Irene A. Connors; Army
  • Thomas J. Duncan; Army
  • Charles L. Eret; Navy
  • Clarence W. Fry; Army
  • Dr. Powell B. Loggan; Navy
  • Oscar M. Phillips; Navy
  • Theodore I. Yalch, Jr.; Army
  • Eldon McNutt; Merchant Marine
  • John E. McBroom; Air Force
  • Merle A. Pederson; Army
  • Joe L. Jones; Marine
  • Russell B. Thompson; Army
  • Reginald W. Hallatt; Navy
  • Arthur Semple; Navy
  • Samuel T. Stearns; Army Air Force
  • Robert B. Donnelly; Army
  • Phillip L. Sadlier; Air Force
  • Theodore A. McCann; Marine
  • George A. Polk; Army

Some of the spouses listed below will be buried next to their husbands who are already buried at Willamette National Cemetery.

"Which likely means they were able to get their husbands here when he passed, and then there was no one here to get them. So we've done it," Hawes said.

  • Lonnie S. Fry - Wife of Clarence W.
  • Mary L. Fronk - Wife of Charles
  • Reba J. Scrivner - Wife of Alfred J.
  • Edna J. Bennett - Wife of Wayne
  • Dorothy E. Hennagir - Wife of Bert
  • Mildred C. Fountain - Wife of Julius H.
  • Mary W. May - Wife of Bill
  • Carol M. Roesler - Wife of Orville G.
  • Neva B. Wilson - Wife of Floyd A.

Click here for more on the Missing In America Project