BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It was a heartfelt, patriotic salute at Biloxi National Cemetery. Robert Creech, an 89-year-old Navy veteran, died recently with no known living relatives. But his extended military family made sure he wasn't forgotten.
Patriot Guard riders escorted Robert Creech, as veterans stood at attention. They gathered to remember a man who honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946. The unspoken bond among veterans reaches far beyond any battlefield.
"To honor our fallen hero," said Billy Simpson, who directs the American Legion riders of Post 1992.
"We go to as many of these as we can. If we know about it, we're here," he said.
It matters not that most of these veterans never knew or even met Robert Creech. His service to country is all they need do know.
"Very important. I don't want any veteran, whatsoever, to be forgotten," said veteran Lynn Cochran, "And not have anybody to stand for them at their funeral."
"This is a great day to be an American. This is a great day to witness what real belief, real faith, what real support is all about," said Chaplain Phil Audet, "No one is forgotten. All are remembered. And we await for all to be accounted for."
The service was especially meaningful to World War II veteran Harold Fluke.
"Same age. Same year. Same Navy. I just outlasted him a little longer. I'm thankful for the people who showed up," he said.
"May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And the rain fall soft upon your fields. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand," said the pastor.
"He had no known next of kin. I mean, our family is within our community and those we surround ourselves with. Truly breathtaking to see our community come out like this," said Jeffrey O'Keefe Jr. with Bradford-O'Keefe funeral home, which organized the service with the assistance of the Navy and Biloxi National Cemetery.
Robert Creech was born March 17th, 1927. He served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946.