Forgotten No More: Claiming the unclaimed
A war veteran from Northport has taken on a new mission -- to give forgotten veterans the final salute they deserve.
As a volunteer with the Missing in America Project, 80-year-old Korean War veteran John Caldarelli works with Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes to locate, identify and bury veterans who died homeless and alone.
"They signed a dotted line about risking their life, they gave their everything ... America should at least have the ability and the perseverance to repay them with a decent funeral," Caldarelli tells News 12.
Recently, the remains of 10 veterans were buried with full military honors at Long Island National Cemetery, where 365,000 war heroes rest. They were airmen and soldiers, sailors and Marines. The oldest served in World War I, while the youngest had served in Vietnam.
The service was attended by servicemen and women from around the country.
"It doesn't matter one bit. They're all comrades one way or the other, whether I knew them or I didn't know them," says World War II veteran Vincent DeMartino.
For Caldarelli, it's a mission accomplished for 10 long-lost brothers-in-arms.
"I think they're happy. They've been found," he says.
Since 2007, the Missing in America Project has identified and interred more than 2,500 unclaimed veterans' remains.