1,000 Strangers Attend Funeral For Marine Vet With No Family


On Nov. 17, a Marine veteran received a solemn and dignified funeral as 1,000 strangers made their way past his casket, one by one, to pay their respects. Just one month earlier, when Billy Aldridge passed away at 80 years old, there was no one to come and claim his body or set his affairs in order. His funeral seemed likely to be a lonely affair. Instead, community members, veterans, and service members from every branch came forward to give him a dignified send off.

After Aldridge’s death on Oct. 14, neither the Indianapolis, Indiana, nursing home where he had lived nor the funeral home tasked with seeing to his affairs were able to reach any next of kin.

Over the next two weeks, Carrie Gee, the funeral director at Legacy Cremation and Funeral Services, scoured Aldridge’s records searching for a contact, she told Task & Purpose in an interview. Gee finally got a break after speaking with his old landlord, who said he remembered seeing a photo of Aldridge in a military uniform “with some medals” in his old apartment.

When Gee realized that Aldridge was a veteran, she reached out to the National Archives and put in a request for his records. The records revealed that Aldridge had served in the Marine Corps in the 1950s. Gee then put out a call to community members.

In addition to the funeral home where Gee works, Private Label Caskets, Memorial Park Cemetery, and Indianapolis’ police escort team worked together to provide Aldridge the funeral ceremony and service that he deserved.

Watch The WISHTV news report of the funeral. Story continues below.

“When we found out Mr. Aldridge was a veteran, we just felt we had to give him a proper and dignified burial,” said Eddie Beagles, vice president of funeral operations at Legacy Cremation and Funeral Services, in a news report by WISHTV.

The outpouring of support from the community was so great that the funeral had to be moved to a larger venue, and ended up taking place at Lawrence United Methodist Church. Even so, it was so packed that there was only standing room.

“While we do not have the circle of family and friends around Billy Aldridge today, we have a community of veterans, a community of supporters of our veterans that come to say you do not die to yourself alone,” said Ron May, a retired U.S. Navy chaplain, in a WISHTV news report.

Aldridge, who was a native of Jefferson, Indiana, joined the Marines in 1956 and served in supply. He received an honorable discharge four years later and then moved to Indianapolis.

For Gee, Aldridge’s funeral was a show of solidarity and support, not just from the community, but from its veteran and military members.

“All this support that this gentleman got, we had someone from every branch of the military,” said Gee. “They were supporting each other.”


Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Veterans Day at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, 11 November, 2018. Photo: Erich Backes/U.S. Army

In typical veteran community fashion, hundreds of people showed up to two separate funerals last week for veterans who otherwise would have been buried alone.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban killed more than 100 members of the Afghan security forces inside a military compound in central Maidan Wardak province on Monday, a senior defense official said.

Read More Show Less
Coast Guard cutter Bertholf on a counterdrug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, March 11, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Trees

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf left California on January 20 for a months-long mission in the Pacific to support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the largest of the U.S. military's geographic combatant commands.

Coast Guardsmen aboard the Bertholf left Alameda on the 30th day of what is now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. They left a few days after not getting their first paycheck since that shutdown started and without knowing when the next will come.

Read More Show Less
Plebes in the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2015 march into Bancroft Hall following noon meal formation in Tecumseh Court. (U.S. Navy)

Leaking pipes. Moldering walls. Condemned offices and balconies. Plumbing that can't handle its load and a stormwater system dumping unfiltered rainwater into the Severn River.

These aren't the issues of a long-abandoned factory. They describe the current condition of the Naval Academy.

Read More Show Less