Photo by JC Amberlyn.
KINGMAN – Keep your eyes peeled for a small motorcycle convoy on Stockton Hill Road Friday morning – and don’t be afraid to show support.
Sutton Funeral Home Funeral Director Jamie Sutton-Zorn will be taking the unclaimed and indigent cremains of 15 veterans (and two spouses) on their final journey to the Prescott National Cemetery, escorted by the Kingman Patriot Guard Riders and Kingman Police Department. KPD will escort the Patriot Guard from Sutton Funeral Home on Sycamore Avenue to Interstate 40 via Stockton Hill Road beginning shortly after 10 a.m.
Zorn will be making her third annual trip to the veterans’ memorial cemetery where the urns will be interred in a columbarium.
“(I thought) if it was something I could do, it is something they’re entitled to,” she said.
Once Zorn and crew hit Ash Fork, they’ll link up with the Prescott Patriot Guard Riders for an escort down state Route 89 through Yavapai County. All intersections from Ash Fork to the Prescott National Cemetery will be controlled by state certified Patriot Guard Riders of America road guards.
The cremains are those of homeless veterans found deceased or vets who died in nursing homes or other care facilities with no family or money for funeral expenses. Zorn works with law enforcement agencies to identify the deceased and tries her hardest to find next of kin.
“I’ve found family in Texas and California,” she said. “I always try to find the family no matter what.”
Veterans with an honorable discharge are entitled to burial or interment at a national or state military cemetery. Once the deceased are identified, Zorn checks with the Department of Veterans Affairs for past military service. She also works with the Mohave County Public Fiduciary’s office, which can help pay funeral expenses.
This is the first time she’s gotten the Patriot Guard involved.
Loren Larson, Kingman and Bullhead City senior ride captain, said at least a half-dozen bikes have committed to the ride, and anyone from the Tri-City area who wants to participate is welcome to join.
“It’s not about us,” he said. “It’s about those veterans we’re escorting.”
Zorn is – and will be – surrounded by past, present and potential future veterans. Both of her grandfathers served in World War II and an uncle in Vietnam. Her 17-year-old son, Dillon, will be enlisting in the Marines on Monday, his 18th birthday, and her 16-year-old son, Nathan, wants to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy. The Kingman Young Marines from the Marine Corps League Detachment #887 will be at Sutton Funeral Home to present colors, so all military ages, affiliates and branches will be part of the honors.
“If we’re going to do a service, we’re going to do as big a service as possible,” said Zorn. “For the people that don’t have family, the only other option was to scatter the ashes. If the family ever appears, I can tell them where the cremains are.”
Anyone interested in joining the ride needs to be at Sutton Funeral Home, 1701 Sycamore Ave., no later than 9:45 a.m. for a mission and safety briefing. For more information, contact Larson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org