‘Missing in America’ veterans' remains to get escort to Prescott cemetery
KINGMAN – The following Mohave County veterans will be honored Friday during a Missing In American Project ceremony at Prescott National Cemetery:
Thomas Biasotti Sr., U.S. Air Force, Vietnam (1954-2017)
Floyd Carlsrud, U.S. Air Force, World War II, Korea, Vietnam (1924-2017)
William Lee Felder, U.S. Army, peace time (1939-2016)
Thomas Francis Fitzgerald, U.S. Army, Vietnam (1948-2017)
John Leroy Gromberg, U.S. Army, Vietnam (1952-2017)
Jack Delbert Huff, U.S. Navy, Korea (1933-2017)
Joseph Michael Kwitowski, U.S. Navy, Vietnam (1948-2017)
Edward E. Pappilion, U.S. Army, World War II (1920-2016)
William R. Pritchard, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam (1947-2017)
Eugene Michael Ryan, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Vietnam (1942-2014)
Gary Sanders, U.S. Navy, Vietnam (1943-2017)
Lindsey Smith, U.S. Marine Corps, Korea (1935-2017)
Oral E. Vananda, U.S. Navy, peace time (1932-2013)
Daniel Lee Walker, U.S. Navy, peace time (1956-2016)
Peter Laverne Young, U.S. Army, Vietnam, Persian Gulf (1936-2017)
KINGMAN – Jamie Zorn was amazed by the thousands of people who lined State Route 89 last year to cheer on Patriot Guard Riders who escorted the unclaimed cremated remains of military veterans to Prescott National Cemetery.
Zorn, whose family has owned Sutton Memorial Funeral Home since 1980, would love to see even a fraction of that turnout in Kingman on Friday when the Patriot Guard Riders begin their annual journey.
The Riders will start their “dignified transfer of remains” at 9 a.m. Friday at Sutton Memorial Funeral Home, 1701 Sycamore Ave., with kickstands up at 9:30 a.m.
The route will proceed north on Western Avenue to Airway Avenue, then east to Andy Devine Avenue and down to Interstate 40, giving people plenty of parking lots and vacant desert to greet the riders.
“So if anyone wants to come out and pay their respects anywhere along the route,” Zorn said.
Zorn is making her fourth trip in five years to the cemetery as part of the Missing In America Project to lay these “forgotten” veterans to rest.
“They are veterans whose families, either we haven’t found the family or the family for whatever reason doesn’t want the remains back,” she said inside Sutton’s chapel where American flags were folded next to each of 15 urns or boxes.
One of them contains the cremains of Oral Vananda, who served peace time in the U.S. Navy. His wife called from Golden Valley after reading about the Missing In America Project last year, and asked Zorn if she would take her husband’s remains to Prescott on the next trip.
“This is something they deserve and they’re entitled to,” said Zorn, whose son, Dillon, is a U.S. Marine recruit in boot camp in San Diego.
The mission of Missing In America Project is to bury the cremains of American veterans with help from private business and state and federal agencies. Sutton has joined with Mohave County Fiduciary, which pays for the cremation through an indigent fund.
Zorn said 10 Patriot Guard Riders started out from Kingman last year and were joined by about 20 more in Ash Fork. They were welcomed by a banner draped from an I-40 overpass, and the closer they got to Prescott, the thicker the crowd, she said.
“There were cars pulled off to the side on (SR) 89. They knew we were coming,” the funeral home owner said. “Once we got into Chino Valley, it was constant people on the side of the road. Cowboys on horses, kids in camo waving flags, law enforcement cars with lights flashing, fire trucks … it was the most amazing thing to see.”
The Missing In America Project service starts at 1 p.m. at Prescott National Cemetery, with guest speaker Tom Burns, captain of Arizona Patriot Guard Riders.