More than 100 strangers attended the funeral Tuesday (May 10) in New Jersey of World War II veteran Eugene Dednam who served in a segregated unit, CBS News reports.
Dednam, 100, who never married and had no children or siblings, died alone at his Hackensack home in April. He was laid to rest at George Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Paramus by people who wanted to honor his service to the nation with a dignified ceremony.
"He was very proud to serve, and he emphasized to me when he passes away that he wanted to be buried in his uniform," Dednam’s neighbor Deshaune Hicks said, adding that the veteran was like a grandfather to him.
The funeral director and county officials were determined to give Dednam a military burial after no one claimed his remains and they learned about his military service.
"It's just, for me, it's a small expression of appreciation to a generation that's almost gone," funeral director Brian Warner said.
After joining the U.S. Army at age 21, Dednam served in Europe. His job involved transporting soldiers from one battle ground to the other. He earned numerous medals in six military campaigns.
"He was right there from the beginning to the end. He went across the English Channel into Normandy. He was there until the end, 'til we won the war," Shaun Hutchinson, acting director of Veterans Services for Bergen County, told CBS.