HUNDREDS OF strangers turned out to pay their respects at the funeral of Irish American Vietnam veteran John James Murphy this week.
Mr Murphy passed away in Elgin, Illinois just before Christmas, but despite the best efforts of the Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, none of his relatives could be located before the ceremony.
Born in California, the US army veteran was thought to have had several siblings, one child and grandchildren.
But despite launching an online campaign to track down his relations, none came forward before the service on Wednesday, January 29.
The service at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois was nevertheless well attended with people coming from far and wide to pay their respects to the former soldier.
Mr Murphy served as a jet engine mechanic in the US Air Force from 1966 to 1969.
He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation and Vietnam Service Medal for his service.
After leaving the armed forces, Mr Murphy worked as welder and later shopkeeper.
— Dane Placko FOX 32 (@dsplacko) January 29, 2020
Speaking to American Military News, US Army Reserves first sergeant Dan Symonds stressed the importance of giving Mr Murphy a proper send-off.
“To me it’s important,” he said.
“Everybody deserves a decent burial and these guys, it doesn’t matter where they served, even if they didn’t see combat, they deserve to be honored.”
Joy Symonds from the Symonds-Madison Funeral Home echoed those sentiments.
“It’s very important to us that no veteran is left behind, that they are properly taken care of.”