Robert Krause, who served as a Marine, died homeless and alone. Sadly, no family claimed his body. That’s when “biker veterans” rolled into town to ensure he was given a respectful goodbye.
Americans owe their freedom to our nation’s veterans. Unfortunately, many vets are homeless and die alone. That’s what happened to Robert Krause, who served his country as a proud Marine in the 1950s. This meant he would be laid to rest without any acknowledgment, becoming one of the thousands of veterans who are homeless or have no surviving relatives when they die.
In some cases, surviving relatives don’t know about their passing or can’t be bothered with the paperwork that goes with claiming the body. However, Marine Corps and US Army veteran Nick Morales, who is also a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, didn’t think that Krause deserved to be buried without any recognition. He believes that anyone heroic enough to serve their country deserves a funeral with dignity.
“I’ve heard it said that a veteran dies twice: once on the battlefield and the second time when people stop saying his name,” said Morales. “If there’s anything we can do to prevent the latter, so be it.” According to Fox13, Morales and other volunteer riders escorted Krause’s hearse from the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.
“Escorting this veteran with no family to his final rest place is the last thing we can do to help this veteran,” said David Allen, who rallied fellow biker club members after discovering that a dozen or more veterans pass away unclaimed each year, just in the Tampa Bay area alone. “This is the last opportunity that, as a combat veteran myself, I have to show respect for this veteran. If it’s not for us stepping up to do this for these veterans, many would go on to have a service at Bushnell with no one present,” Allen added.
Morales said it is an honor to participate in ensuring no veteran will be buried alone. “Our motto is ‘vets helping vets,’” he said. “We’re not going to let any vet go to their final resting place by themselves. We all have a common bond of service – our service, what we’ve done for our country. And regardless of what we’ve done after our service, we still have that bond.”
Once every quarter, the Florida National Cemetery holds a group service for indigent and unclaimed veterans, but cemetery officials said they also welcome services for individuals, Fox13 reported.
Although many veterans today don’t receive the recognition they deserve in life, much less the dignity they deserve in death, veteran Robert Krause had a funeral that was befitting the sacrifice he made as a member of the US Armed Forces.
Morales and his biker friends gave Krause’s casket a motorcycle escort, with an accompanying musical tribute in the form of the “Taps” bugle call. Although they didn’t know him in life, his newfound biker brothers were there at his funeral to speak Robert Krause’s name and acknowledge his contribution to the world.
Sadly, Robert Krause is far from the only homeless veteran to die alone. In fact, the military has a term for it: “unclaimed veteran.” Lieutenant Richard Butterfield was another homeless vet who died alone. Similar to Krause, the word got out about Butterfield’s passing through the “Homeless Veterans Burial Program.” Surprisingly, over 100 people attended his service at the Georgia National Cemetery when it was expected that no one would come, reported Alive11 News.
Butterfield served in Vietnam from 1960 to 1968 and was honorably discharged from the Marines. After that, he disappeared. “Whatever else happened in his life, where he was homeless, penniless, and alone. Whatever happened, happened,” said Bishop David Epps, who performed the funeral service. “Today, he will be honored. He will be surrounded by his brothers.”