The Biloxi National Cemetery paid tribute to a "Forgotten Hero" Monday.
Volunteers from Keesler Air Force base attended the graveside service of a veteran they never met. It's part of a new program designed to honor the memory of those who served their country but have no one to pay final respects.
Seventy-eight-year-old Louise Badeaux served as a Navy nurse during World War II. She spent her final years as an extended care patient at the Biloxi VA.
Since she had no immediate family close by, her burial would have gone unnoticed. But a cemetery caretaker thinks veterans like Louise Badeaux, deserve something more.
"She was a veteran of the United States Navy during World War two, and we've come together to pay our final respects," the VA chaplain said.
Nearly two dozen mostly military mourners filled the small chapel, paying final respects to someone they never knew.
Louise Badeaux is the first veteran to receive a "Forgotten Hero" funeral.
"We think that it's important to show respect and honor to all veterans whether they have families or not. If they have families that are far off or if they have no families whatsoever we want to pay them respect," cemetery director Amanda Rhodes said.
Louise Badeaux's only relative was an elderly sister, living in Arizona and unable to attend the service.
Captains Nancy Miller and Cheryl Grotsky were among the military volunteers who gladly stood in as "family." They never met Louise Badeaux but felt a special bond just the same.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. I think that anyone who can come out and support others who've supported us and our country, I think it's the least we can do as active duty currently," Capt. Miller said.
"An awesome experience. Both of us are nurses and can totally understand and relate. And again appreciate all that she's done for her country," Capt. Grotsky said.
About 10 times a year, veterans are buried at Biloxi National Cemetery without anyone paying their final respects. The cemetery caretaker who organized the "Forgotten Hero" funeral says it will give those veterans the dignity they deserve.
Gene Pope came up with the idea.
"And I thought for somebody that served their country they need to have a little bit of honor paid to them. So I just came up with this idea to get some volunteers to come out and give them a service they truly deserved in their honor," Pope said.