Strangers pack funeral for veteran with no known family, friends: ‘He will not be alone’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Several hundred people, including members of the U.S. Air Force and the Patriot Guard, packed into a cemetery on Thursday to offer their final salute to a U.S. veteran. Most had never met him.It was a touching tribute to Staff Sgt. Lyndon Badgett, 57, a U.S. Air Force veteran who seemed to outlast most of his family and friends. For weeks, it seemed as if he would be buried alone.”No veteran should be left to leave here alone after spending their time serving this country,” said one of the attendees, Mark Harris of Clarksville, Tenn.After Badgett’s death Aug. 30, the Gateway Funeral Home in Clarksville spent several frantic weeks trying to find a next of kin — to no avail. Not wanting to bury him alone, they put a call out on Facebook for people to come and honor him at his final resting place.The response was overwhelming.“I expected a lot of people, but I have to say that I was shocked at the numbers that were there and the outpouring of people and the distances that came,” said Wade Winkler, funeral director for Gateway Funeral Home.The funeral home covered the cost of his memorial services. He received full military honors.As the veteran’s casket, which was draped in an American flag, was carried into the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, tears fell down people’s faces, even though many in attendance were strangers.
The Patriot Guard folds a flag that had been draped over the casket of U.S. Air Force Veteran, Lyndon Badgett. (Fox News/ Charles Watson)
OLDEST LIVING WWII VETERAN CELEBRATES 110TH BIRTHDAYAmong those to show up was Sylvia Melton, an Army veteran who served in the 9th infantry division. She said knew Badgett from the nursing home where the two lived. She and several other friends of Badgett traveled more than 50 miles to honor him.
Flags fly at half-mast to honor U.S. Air Force Veteran, Lyndon Badgett. (Fox News/ Charles Watson)
“We was told he had nobody,” Melton said. “As a veteran, you never let somebody die by themselves. You come out and you honor them.”Another friend, Arthur Jester, said he also got to know Badgett at the nursing home. He said he was a “hell of a good guy” whose presence would be missed.TOP OFFICIALS DISCIPLINED OVER ANT BITES AT GEORGIA VA HOSPITAL“He was the kind of guy, you could talk to today and you know he’s a good guy,” he said. “He never said nothing bad about nobody. That was the kind of guy he was.”According to the Patriot Guard, Badgett served in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Reserve from 1981 to 1997. Other than that, little was known about him.Winkler said the night before Badgett’s service, the funeral home received a call from a woman who said she was Badgett’s daughter. She couldn’t make the funeral service, but Winkler said she agreed with what the funeral home was doing for her father.“One thing I did tell his daughter is that, ‘he will not be alone’,” Winkler said, “And that came true.”

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