New Jersey Firefighter and Fitness Studio Owner Participates in Mission of Honor
To Bury Cremains of Unclaimed Veterans
They are gone, but at last they are not forgotten. The cremains of six war veterans were buried with full military honors on Thursday, June 30 at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery. A fitting resting place for the men who served in our Armed Forces, except that there were no families or loved ones present. The remains of these six men have been unclaimed and abandoned for decades in New Jersey.
Their remains would be simply stored away on a shelf if not for the dedicated work of New Jersey’s Mission of Honor for Cremains of American Veterans, a non-profit organization that locates, identifies and inters the unclaimed cremated remains of service members. Thursday was the 24th Mission of Honor burial ceremony, having previously buried 203 unclaimed veterans, while reuniting another 272 soldiers with their families.
“We learned about this organization only a month ago,” says Stephen Kopshaw, a firefighter with the Wyckoff Fire Department and owner of a FIT36® studio in Waldwick, N.J. and a Fitness Together® studio in Wyckoff, N.J. “Two members of our fire station also manage a funeral home and they came to us asking for help with our power ladder to hang a flag at the Home. When we found out what they were doing, we all wanted to do more to help.”
Kopshaw not only helped at the burial, he was part of the 21-gun salute squad honoring: Thomas English, Jr., James Walls and Richard Mower, who fought in World War II; Leroy Thomas, Jr. and William Ellis in Vietnam; and Robert Sinn in Korea.
“It was a humbling, once in a lifetime experience,” added Kopshaw. “It’s sad to think of anyone abandoned with no family left to take care of you at the end of life. That these are war veterans moved me even more.”
Kopshaw says Mission of Honor is an organization with an amazing group of people, who need the help of others to continue their mission. Donations are necessary to provide proper burials for abandoned and unclaimed veterans.
“Anyone who serves our country does not deserve to remain in a box on a shelf in a basement. It’s just not right,” Kopshaw stated. “Whether these veterans have family or not, it should be the mission of every American who these heroes fought so hard to protect to provide a proper resting place.”