MISSION — A military veteran who died two years ago finally received a fitting burial Friday at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery.
With an American flag standing at half-staff against the sunny skies, several veterans from other military divisions lent a hand Friday morning as Air Force veteran Donald G. Kent was laid to rest with military honors two years after his cremation.
Xochitl Hinojosa and her family knew Kent and decided to give him a proper burial after learning that his remains were unclaimed and still sitting in a funeral home.
“Mr. Donald Kent was a great friend to my love (husband),” Hinojosa stated this week in a Facebook post.
Kent died in February 2015 at McAllen Medical Center at the age of 84. He made his home at La Quinta Inn on South 10th Street for about four years before he fell ill.
“We visited him in the hospital to keep him company since he and my (husband) were good friends,” Hinojosa added in the post.
At the time of his death, the veteran didn’t have family or next of kin, so there was no one to see that he received a proper burial.
Mary Hernandez, Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery director, said that because Kent was an unaccompanied veteran it took some time to get his status as a veteran verified in order to be buried at the cemetery.
“Sometimes some people are responsive soon enough, sometimes some people aren’t,” Hernandez said. “We had to research national records to verify his information and that’s what took a while.”
Kent served in the Air Force from September 1950 to September 1954, according to Texas General Land Office.
Kent was honored Friday as defender of freedom.
Homer Gallegos, post commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8788 in McAllen, was one of the many volunteers who attended the burial ceremony, saying that even though Kent didn’t have a family, he wasn’t alone.
“All the people that were here today came out because they heard about it,” Gallegos said. “He has a lot of brothers and sisters that served in other (divisions) and are here because of that.”
The ceremony included a 21-gun salute, a playing of TAPS, the bugle call for fallen heroes, and the symbolic folding of the U.S. flag.