Unclaimed veterans' remains laid to rest

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — The unclaimed remains of 35 military veterans, including some from World War I, and two military wives have been given formal military burials in Northern California.

The remains, some left unclaimed for decades, were escorted by 120 motorcycles from Santa Rosa to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon on Monday, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported.

"One of the tragedies of this is that you have people who dedicated their lives and never got the recognition they deserved," said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

Zane spoke at a brief ceremony at Santa Rosa Memorial Park before a hearse began the 75-mile drive to the cemetery — part of a motorcade that included more than 120 motorcyclists from law enforcement, the Patriot Guard and the American Legion Riders.

Among the cremated remains are those of eight men who served in World War I, 17 who served in World War II, one from the Korean War, three who served in the Vietnam War and six with peace-time duty. None of the veterans died during military service, the Press Democrat reported.

The unclaimed remains that had been held for the longest amount of time belonged to Army Sgt. Frederick Brauner, who died in 1962. The most recent belonged to Army veteran James Keller, who died in February.

"It's crazy that some of them sat there for something like 50 years," said Michael Cracchiolo, of Windsor, who rides with the Patriot Guard. "Never forget."

Ron Collier, Sonoma County's Veterans Remains Officer, was mainly responsible for identifying the military veterans from the names of more than 300 remains held at Santa Rosa Memorial park, according to the Press Democrat.

Veterans, motorcyclists and current service members served as pallbearers for the remains. They carried the boxes, which were covered in small flags, as bagpipes played "America the Beautiful."

The names and ranks of each veteran were read.