13 May 2009

Buffalo Soldier, Vietnam Medic, and WWII Sailor will finally come home to Arlington

I just read about this on a former patient's Caring Bridge page. He's currently an outpatient at WRAMC and is hoping to ride escort for the event. I did some Googling and learned about what I think is an incredible story.

Thanks to the Missing in America Project, the remains of three American heroes will be buried with full military homors at Arlington National Cemetary on May 29, 2009.

Starting on May 20, and from different states as far away as Arizona and California, the three heroes will begin their final journey across America.

Thousands more motorcyclists, many from such groups as the Patriot Guard and the Old Guard Riders, are expected to join the procession as it winds its way across the country, stopping overnight to place the crated funeral urns in a mortuary or funeral home, said Salanti, MIAP's national executive director.

The three identical bronze urns, each weighing nearly 26 pounds, were donated by the Christy Vault Company, Inc. in Colma, Calif.

"By the time we reach Arlington National Cemetery, I expect our motorcade procession will be more than eight miles ling with several thousand riders," said Salanti, who has difficulty holding back tears as he recounts the origins of the Missing in America Project.

Launched in late 2006, the MIA Project's mission is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations. Fox News did a story about them last year. (tissue alert)

The Buffalo Soldier, the Vietnam Medic, and the WWII Sailor to be buried at Arlington with full military honors on May 29 are:

Isaiah Mays
Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Isaiah Mays, a liberated slave who became a Buffalo Soldier — African American cavalry troops patrolling the wild west — who was buried in a pauper’s grave known at the asylum where he spent his last years before passing away in 1925.

Mays left the Army in 1893 and worked as a laborer in Arizona and New Mexico until 1922, when he applied to the United States Government for a federal pension and was denied as not qualified.

In March, Mays’ remains were disinterred from the Arizona State Hospital Cemetery in Phoenix, cremated and on May 29, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

James William Dunn
Dunn, who retired Sept. 30, 1975 with 35 years in the US Army as a medical aid specialist, died on May 19, 2008.

When his base in Vietnam came under heavy attack, Dunn retrieved a number of wounded soldiers without regard to his own safety, administered life saving techniques and carried them to safety, demonstrating heroism for which he was awarded the Silver Star. He was also decorated with a Bronze Star with “V”, the Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign ribbon.

Having completed his 21 years of USA service, he continued serving – this time as a foster parent – over the years impacting the lives of over 250 children, fostering as many as 11 children in his home at one time.

Dunn’s service will be remembered when his remains are interred at Arlington.

Johnnie Franklin Callahan
While at sea aboard the U.S.S. Aulick 569 in the Navy during World War II, Callahan was a Boatswain’s Mate First Class when a Japanese aircraft dropped a live bomb onto the deck of his ship. He was awarded the Silver Star, our nation’s third highest award exclusively for combat valor, in recognition of heroism for picking up the bomb and throwing it into the ocean, saving countless lives.

Callahan died on June 22, 1995 but his family kept his ashes with the hope it would be possible to fulfill his dream of being buried at Arlington with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.

I hope to see much more coverage about this story of honor and respect for these three heroes as they travel to their final resting place.

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