Massive turnout for ‘unclaimed veteran’ funeral in Illinois

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ELGIN, Ill. — When a Vietnam veteran died last month, authorities were unable to contact any family members.  But on Wednesday, those who knew him or who just wanted to honor the “unclaimed veteran” gathered at an Elgin funeral home to say a final goodbye.

There was a big turnout for the funeral of John James Murphy, who died on Dec.18 at Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin at the age of 71. Murphy was born in Chicago and was a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1969.  For weeks officials tried to get in contact with his relatives — reportedly a brother, two sisters, one child, and grandchildren — but without success.

Murphy was a resident the last two years at River View Rehab Center in Elgin.  The director there said he was a polite, kind, and helpful man who served on their resident board.  The Kane County Coroner reached out to the Symonds-Madison Funeral Home director, who is a veteran, and asked if he would be willing to help put together a public service for Murphy.  Dan Symonds agreed to do so at no cost.

Symonds’ wife put out the word out on social media, and within a day it exploded.  Veterans groups and the public responded, wanting to come and pay their respects today.  After the funeral service, there will be a procession to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, where Murphy will be buried with military honors.

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