ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis funeral home held a service Tuesday to honor a Vietnam veteran who died with no known family. At the Michel Funeral Home, many people lined up to pay their respects to a man that they do not know.
“I don’t think veterans should be laid to rest without no one around,” said Chrissy Whitaker, co-owner of Michel Funeral Home. “They served our country and now it’s our turn to help out in their time of need.”
The service included a traditional folding of the flag and gun salute for Army soldier Glenn Emerson Cook. The 70-year-old from Olivette had no known family in the area.
Army veteran Charles VanWinkle said he brought his son with him to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to learn the lesson of fellowship at the service.
“I’m a veteran and I wanted to teach my son about Jefferson Barracks and respect and the military and how we do things,” VanWinkle said. “I don’t know anything about him, but he’s a brother. We’re all brothers and sisters in the military. That’s kind of the thing.”
This is the ninth veteran funeral where the funeral home has covered the costs.
“We’re certainly grateful for everybody that showed up on Glenn’s behalf,” said Ron Battelle, executive director of The Backstoppers. “He deserved that and we’re grateful to Glenn for what he’s doing for Backstoppers.”
Authorities discovered Cook had no family to claim him and that’s when the nonprofit The Backstoppers stepped in to help.
The members of the Patriot Guard and St. Louis Amvets Post 6 helped lead the procession and final farewell for the Vietnam veteran.
“Respect our veterans,” Whitaker said. “There’s a lot of them out there hurting and that goes for any police officers or firefighters or whatever profession it is. Have respect for these guys that put their neck on the line.”