Thousands of people turned out at a Texas cemetery for the funeral of a U.S. Air Force veteran who died without family after an appeal on social media.
Joseph Walker of Dale, Texas, died aged 72 in November 2018. He served in the air force during the Vietnam War, from September 1964 to September 1968, according to Texas officials, and left the service with an honorable discharge. His obituary did not state his rank.
Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery posted the details of Walker’s full military burial to its Facebook page last Thursday, noting that the late veteran would be “unaccompanied,” meaning he had no family set to attend.
“If you have the opportunity, please come out and attend. We do NOT leave Veterans behind,” the message said.
That plea spread on social media, amplified by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and CNN anchor Jake Tapper, and thousands of Americans heard it.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody estimated that there were more than 5,000 people in attendance for Walker’s burial on Monday.
“I was made aware this weekend of a veteran who passed that was going to be buried at a local veterans cemetery with no family in attendance,” Chody tweeted alongside images from the funeral.
“That’s just not the case. He has family of veterans & public at large. I sent a delegation as well from WCSO to show our gratitude.”
Marc George of the Christian Motorcyclists Association spoke at the funeral.
“Today, we’re not strangers; today, we are family,” George said, WPRL reported. “This is our brother, Joseph Walker…Like a lot of us other vets, he signed a blank check for our nation.”
Walker’s casket was draped in the American flag and he received military honors during the service, including an honor guard and the playing of “Taps” by a bugler. There was also a flyover.
Posting a video of the full service, which was delayed because so many cars were still backed up in the road waiting to get in at the original start time, the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery thanked all those who made the journey to attend.
“Thank you so much to everyone who came out to honor unaccompanied United States Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker and lay him to rest at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery,” the post said. “We are overwhelmed at all this love and support. We do NOT leave Veterans behind.”
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