Veterans Restore Forgotten Grave

A group of coast veterans spent the morning at Coalville Cemetery, honoring the memory of a fellow serviceman.

The North Bay VFW Post learned about the overgrown grave of a Mississippi veteran who died during the Korean War.

The veterans organized a work crew to restore some dignity and respect to the final resting place of someone they never knew.

The veteran volunteers set out early Friday morning to clean up the gravesite. Their mission clearly defined, the North Bay veterans marched into the cemetery armed with yard tools.

They battled an entrenched enemy: overgrown brush.

Those who chopped and sawed and cleared away never met the man buried there. The task is about pride and patriotism. And a bond that all veterans understand.

Bill Selke is commander of VFW Post 6731.

"A war zone is completely different from things that we see out here today. And the people over in the Middle East right now, what's going on with those people, we all understand that 'cause we've been there and done that as they say," Selke said.

They worked as a team, clearing the thicket that surrounded a simple head stone. They're family, these veterans. Project chairman, Joe Roberts, says the effort is aimed at restoring dignity.

"The man was 29 years old. And gave his life for his country. And he deserves, he deserves more than what was given him," Roberts said.

"Here, let me get in there and work for awhile," said one member of the work crew.

Determination soon gets the better of the stubborn brush.

The grave stone says James D. Shelton was a sergeant in the 8th Air Force Medical Group. He served in World War II and Korea and died at age 29.

"It makes us feel good to be able to come out and be able to do something, you know. And I hope if I ever get in a situation where I need assistance, they'll rally together and help me out," Bud Ross said.

Mission successful.

The clearing complete, the veterans raised a flag on a makeshift pole.