Hundreds of strangers attend funeral of Korean War veteran with no known living relatives

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ELWOOD — Hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered to honor the life of George Green, a Korean War veteran who died Dec. 5 with no known living relatives.

Veterans from as far away as Michigan, high school students and ordinary residents joined together Thursday to attend the funeral services for Green, 89, who was awarded the Bronze Star medal four times for his service in the U.S. Army.

The street in front of Copher-Fesler-May Funeral Home was lined with American flags with a member of the Indiana Patriot Guard standing vigil outside.

An overflow crowd gathered at the funeral home and at the conclusion of the service each veteran approached Green's casket and gave the hand salute.

A long procession of vehicles made the trip from Elwood to the Marion National Cemetery for Green's burial, where members of the Elwood VFW performed military rites complete with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

Pastor Rodney Ellis of First Missionary Baptist Church opened the service with a moment of silence for Green and all the men and women currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Ellis said Green had joined his parents in heaven and would be laid to rest with his brothers at the National Cemetery.

"He was a true patriot," Ellis said. "He laid it all on the line to serve his country.

"You don't win four Bronze Stars by not relinquishing your personal safety," he said. "Through his reasonable service we don't know how many lives he saved or warmed."

Jim Dawson, commander of the Elwood American Legion, said he didn't know Green, who was born and died in the same house in Elwood.

Dawson said Green won a state championship while in high school for his singing and performed at many weddings.

"He was a quiet person," he said.

Dawson noted that after Green was wounded in Korea, he returned to his unit.

"Winning four Bronze Stars is quite a feat," he said. "Today he is not alone and never has been."

Dorcas Floyd graduated with Green from Elwood High School in the Class of 1949.

"George rode his bike around town a lot," she said. "We didn't keep in touch but just knew George.

"He was a fabulous singer," Floyd said. "He sang baritone in school. He was always a private person, even in school."

She sometimes wondered what Green was doing over the years, knowing he had the venetian blind repair business.

"This is what I knew it would be," Floyd said of the community's paying honor to Green. "This is the way Elwood is, we always come through. This is so wonderful for him."

Staff Sgt. Jason Truman, retired from the U.S. Army, drove from St. Joseph, Michigan, to attend the graveside service.

"I'm friends on Facebook who is a member of the Patriot Guard. When I saw him share this it was a no-brainer," he said. "I just couldn't image. I know what it's like to have a life of service and come home and live in solitude. That was best for him.

"Four Bronze Stars, I would have driven to Florida," Truman said. "You don't put heroes in the ground every day. A hero like that someone should remember him."

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From left, Pvt. Joshawah Gaar and Sgt. Megan Mason fold the flag for Korean War veteran George R. Green at the Marion National Cemetery on Thursday. Green, 89, died Dec. 5 at his home in Elwood (The Herald Bulletin courtesy photo/Don Knight)

Myla Nelson, an Elwood resident, was there with her 5-month-old son at the funeral home and cemetery.

"I just wanted to thank him for all his service and all the veterans," she said. "I like to say thanks to those that have given their service. It's very beautiful to see everybody coming together like this."

Leon Richardson of Greenfield, member of Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association and a 20-year Army veteran, said they try to attend funerals for all veterans.

"He had family. We're all here today," he said. "It's good that people try to do something for others, hard to find these days."

Marcy Fry said she knew of Green most of her life.

"He was very quiet, but back in the day in the 1970s and 1980s he was a very good business person," she said. "He would do things for anybody.

"This is such a blessing to see how we all came together," Fry said. "We want to show our support. He was proud to serve but was a very humble man."

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