AUSTIN,Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A thick blanket of fog hung over the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery Tuesday morning.
The weather didn’t prevent this group from coming out to show respect for Major Lee Shotwell, Jr. (Major is his first name not his Military Rank).
Little is known about Shotwell except that He served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
“We don’t know what he did or where he went, but none the less today he is our brother,” said Marc George with the Christian Motorcyclist Association who lead the gathering.
This ceremony was organized by the Texas Veterans Land Board because no immediate family members of Shotwell were available to claim his body.But his military family arrived after a Notification was issued that Shotwell would be given what’s call an Unaccompanied Veteran Burial.
“It’s never a sad day it’s a prideful day we are all on the same team and we’re here all the way to the end,” said Army Veteran Ray Walker.
A special member of this military family was also there.
WWII Veteran Louis Hicks.
The former Army MP - who is now 92- sat quietly as an honor guard folded Shotwell’s flag.
Hicks never knew the man but the bond they share could not keep him away.
“It was a great honor, I’m hoping one day it might my day. I hope it will be many days for many fallen soldiers, it’s wonderful this organization has created something like this. God bless America,” said Hicks.
With no one from Major Shotwell’s family at the gathering-Texas General Land commissioner George P Bush was presented with the flag. Commissioner Bush told FOX7 he was honored to receive the flag. for him there is also a sense of Pride. Bush started this program about 4 years ago. Major Shotwell is the 100th Military Veteran to be given this type of ceremony.
“I’m thrilled with the progress of the program. We started this in 2015, we found savings in our budget to make it work. Other states have approached us including the Federal VA to replicate this in other parts of the country, we’ve actually reunited a handful of families through this program, but to me it’s a reminder that there are many of our battle buddies that are being left behind. To me this is a platform to speak to a larger set of issues that we see in the veterans community,” said Bush.
Many of those who came this Service have attended several of the other unaccompanied Burials. They know there will be more. A call to duty that veterans like Lawrence McCullar promise to answer.
“Yes that’s what’s important I tell everybody no matter what kind of day you’re having an even the weather, you leave here after something like this whatever problems you’re dealing with through life, your job, your family and your children you leave here in a little bit in appreciation of life and the day and what the United States services have done for our country over the years,” said McCullar.
Commissioner Bush wants to expand the program to other state cemeteries in the state.To make that happen Bush said he needs state lawmakers to provide the program with some additional funding.