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71-year-old Vietnam Veteran John James Murphy passed away at Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, Illinois last month. 

According to WGN9 News, Following Murphy’s passing, authorities attempted to get in touch with his relatives, reportedly a brother, two sisters, one child, and grandchildren, but were unsuccessful. After weeks of attempts, the coroner reached out to Dan Symonds, veteran and Symonds-Madison Funeral Home director, and asked if he would help organize a memorial for this “unclaimed veteran.”

Symonds agreed to organize a ceremony free-of-charge, so his wife took to social media to spread the word – and that’s when the event went viral, attracting veteran supporters from around the country. 

“It is overwhelming,” said Symonds.

“People from other states have called me saying ‘we’re coming’ and ‘what can we do to help?’”

Murphy was born in Chicago and was an Air Force jet engine mechanic from 1966 to 1969. He spent his last two years at River View Rehab Center in Elgin, where he was described as a ‘polite, kind, and helpful man who served on their resident board.’

Murphy’s memorial was held at Elgin Funeral Home on Wednesday, January 29th, and was attended by Murphy’s friends and many more who simply wanted to thank this ‘unclaimed veteran’ for his service.


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