Breaking News
More () »

19 veterans whose remains went unclaimed honored in Memorial Day ceremony

"The sad part is nobody knows why they were not claimed, why they were abandoned," Vietnam War veteran Owen Oliver said.

COLORADO, USA — The local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) paid their respects on Saturday for 19 service members whose remains were left unclaimed at the Fairmount Cemetery.

Dozens of veterans gathered at the cemetery event center and paid their respects to the 19 fallen men. The deceased varied in military branch and war but had one thing in common: They were no longer forgotten.

"It’s so exciting and fulfilling to be part of something like this," said Jim Topkoff, a member of VVA Chapter 1071, which is based in the Denver area. "Well, when you realize how important our people are to this world, to this country, there’s no substitute."

In 2015, VVA Chapter 1071 inventoried more than 800 abandoned cremations and determined more than 100 of them were veterans. The group has continued its efforts through the years and found the ashes of the 19 veterans at Fairmount Cemetery.

"The sad part is nobody knows why they were not claimed, why they were abandoned," said Vietnam War veteran Owen Oliver. "There’s no explanation for that, and it’s sad. So it's heartening to have a ceremony like this to bring things full circle."

The nineteen men's remains were put into wooden urns carved with the military branch they served in. Dog tags were nailed to the boxes so that these men's names will now always be remembered.  VVA Chapter 1071 provided 9News with a list of the 19 service members, their rankings, military branch, war fought in, date of birth and date of death.

  • Baker, Jesse Hugh  
    PVT Army WWI
    11/6/1899 - 2/4/1985
  • Block, John William
    RM3 Navy Vietnam
    6/23/1947 – 12/21/2004
  • Boldt, Russell D.
    PFC Army WWII
    10/24/1924 – 10/16/1984
  • Brown, Charles W.
    Capt Army WWII
    8/27/1917 - 6/15/2005
  • Hamby, Elmer Lee
    EM3 Navy WWII
    1/26/1926 – 1/2/2007
  • Hansen, Martin
    AN Navy None
    4/13/1938 – 12/11/1987
  • Hull, Richard C.
    CPL Army WWII
    4/20/1912 – 4/1/1982
  • Joram, Donald
    Tsgt Air Force Korea/Vietnam
    5/9/1929 – 3/4/1999
  • Ciocca, Mario Salvatore
    PFC Army None
    9/12/1935 – 3/13/2012
  • Dull, James Warren
    MOMM3 Navy WWII
    9/9/1923 - 11/30/1981
  • Eldred, William D.
    SSgt Army WWII
    1/16/1916 - 4/20/1983
  • Peterson, Clarence Herbert
    PFC Army WWI
    4/16/1894 - 2/10/1983
  • Robinson, Paul
    SSgt Air Force None
    11/27/1934 - 3/20/1981
  • Strief, Eugene
    Ensign Navy WWII/Korea
    8/5/1924 - 12/6/2009
  • Goldfeder, Stanley
    S1C Coast Guard WWII
    6/10/1925 - 3/21/1980
  • Greenfield, Lester H.
    Capt Army WWII
    7/12/1913 - 10/19/2009
  • Wilson, William Crowther
    Tsgt Army WWII
    12/25/1913 - 2/11/1982
  • Wesley, William D.
    CPL Army WWII
    10/13/1909 - 4/20/1980
  • White, Nicholas Belaeff
    Capt Army WWII
    10/13/1903 - 3/25/1980

RELATED: Here’s how to watch the Colorado National Guard’s Memorial Day flyovers

RELATED: Ways to celebrate Memorial Day virtually and outdoors



Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER for top stories from 9NEWS curated daily just for you. Get content and information right now for can’t-miss stories, Next and Broncos content, weather and more delivered right to your inbox.   


iTunes: http://on9news.tv/itunes
Google Play: http://on9news.tv/1lWnC5n  


ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA. 

For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for "9news" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.