Community shows up to pay respects to veteran with no family

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – It’s not what most people would do on a Friday morning – taking time out of the day to pay respects to a man you didn’t even know.

But hundreds of strangers became an impromptu family of sorts on a cold morning to get into Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to honor a 50-year-old veteran who died without a family.

Sergeant Robert Kenneth Wunderlich was buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at 10 a.m. with no family to plan or attend the service.

After calls for support were sent out Thursday from the USO and Gateway Cremation Services, it was up to the community to pay its respects to the Air Force veteran.

“I always think it’s important for kids to understand that there is someone sacrificing a lot of things for our freedom,” said Larry Nations.

For the casual onlooker, it was heartwarming to see all who came. A sort of restoration of faith in our humanity.

“It’s extremely humbling to see that the community would come out and support veterans. Unclaimed veterans,” said Krissy Stone, a Patriot Guard rider.

The cemetery was packed and strangers wept for Sgt. Wunderlich

The cemetery was packed with fellow military members, veterans, and community members showing their support. They had never even met Sergeant Wunderlich.

“All military men deserve family at their closing. That’s why we’re here,” said Jeff Hirsch, a Patriot Guard rider.

There was no picture of him Sgt. Wunderlich. And nothing is known about his service record.

But on this day, Sgt. Wunderlich had an honor guard and a community standing watch as he was laid to rest with full military honors, including the folding of the US flag and the playing of the taps. The flag was given to a friend who was in the hospital with him.

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