World War II vet's remains, and those of his wife, finally have an honored resting place
By Lane DeGregory, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, December 17, 2009
BUSHNELL — The two teenagers got to the cemetery first.
He wore his dark green dress uniform from the National Guard. She wore a long black dress.
They stood on the edge of the road, across from rows of matching military headstones, waiting for the funeral of the man they had never met.
Mike Colt, 19, and his girlfriend, Carol Sturgell, 18, had driven more than an hour from their Tampa homes on Wednesday to be at Florida National Cemetery.
They weren't really sure why they had come. They just knew they had to be here.
"It's kind of sad, huh?" asked Sturgell, scanning the sea of white gravestones.
Colt nodded. "Yeah, but it feels kind of important."
At 12:20 p.m., a Tampa police car pulled up, then a white Lincoln Town Car. Another police cruiser followed. Two officers stepped out.
"Thank you for being here," Colt said, shaking both of their hands.
"No, thank you," said Officer Dan College. "If it weren't for you guys, none of us would be here."
The story began three weeks earlier when the young couple found the urns of Delbert and Barbara Hahn in a pile of trash. They also discovered a citation for a Purple Heart issued in 1945; and a certificate for a Bronze Star medal "for heroism in ground combat in the vicinity of Normandy, France ... June 1944".
Saying "No one should be thrown away like that", Colt decided to do something about it. And so on December 16, "A bugler played taps. The riflemen fired three shots. And 56 people watched the honor guard fold a flag over the urns of the man and woman they never knew."
Make sure to read the whole thing.
Thanks to Dean for this story of kindness, and of honor.
One last note. According to a comment from Mike Colt's father Donald on the orginal article, Mike is scheduled to deploy in early January. Good luck, Mike, and let us know if you need anything!