Vet’s Cremains Bought at Garage SaleMay 25, 2009 at 8:49 am | Posted in Finds, News | 1 Comment
And now for our Memorial Day scavenging news: After being inadvertently purchased at an Oklahoma garage sale, a Vietnam vet’s cremains have been given a proper funeral. According to the Tulsa World, war wounds left Army Pvt. Warren A. Nicholls paralyzed. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
After Nicholls died in 1987, his mother “apparently could not give her son a proper military burial, so she put his cremated remains in a trunk along with some of his belongings.” At the time of her death in 2002 in Forth Worth, Texas, she had no known relatives. So a friend brought the trunk containing the soldier’s cremains to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Eventually it ended up at a garage sale, where customer John Belding “didn’t know exactly what he had acquired when he obtained the trunk for $5.” An antique collector, he noticed at first only that it contained militaria. Upon finding the cremains and the Purple Heart, he offered to return these immediately to the seller, who did not want them.
Belding then went “to Don Clapsaddle, chief of staff for the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Oklahoma. Clapsaddle said it was clear to him that Nicholls deserved a proper military send-off…. While the particulars of Nicholls’ story are unique, the situation is not as rare as one might think. The Missing in America Project has been working nationwide for more than two years to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of otherwise forgotten American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations. According to the group’s Web site, 571 such cremains have been identified to date, with 387 interred so far.”
During a ceremony this Saturday, Nicholls’ cremains were placed in a granite memorial in the Field of Honor at Broken Arrow’s Floral Haven Memorial Garden.