When David Bruns became commander of American Legion Post 24 in Fairbury, Neb., one of the first things he did to regenerate the post’s energy was to ask Post Adjutant Catherine Lovgren to set up a social media presence to share what the post was doing and what was happening at the facility.
Lovgren did that, creating a Facebook page that shares post news and events, acknowledging military milestones and even using it to share photos and comments from Lovgren when she visits another American Legion post.
But recently, the page was used as a call to action, and the result was a Korean War veteran getting the proper final send-off by his fellow veterans.
When Post 24 learned that Korean War Air Force veteran Robert Minto had passed away and Gerdes-Meyer Funeral Home had been unable to locate any of his family, the post put out the following message on Facebook:
This page is to promote the American Legion and get help to veterans and service members as best we can. Sometimes our help isn't for this life but for the next one. We are asking anyone who can come to the cemetery in Alexandria on Monday February 5th at 11am to be there in support of veteran with little to no family and friends left. Let's give this airman a proper send off.
“In the area, a lot of people follow us because we’re doing a lot of events at the post,” Bruns said. “The funeral home had found out he was a veteran but couldn’t find any family or friends and reached out to us to see if any of us knew him … and to see if we could arrange (an honor guard). Cat put it out on social media, and it just kind of took off.”
Post 24 shares a facility with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3113, so both posts put the word out about Minto’s upcoming funeral. Local media also picked up the story.
The result was dozens of men and women who had never met Minto – most of them veterans from various organizations – showing up on Feb. 5 at Alexandria Catholic Cemetery to give their respects to Minto. The joint color guard from Posts 24 and 3113 also provided the honor guard for the funeral, while members of the two posts also served as pallbearers; temperatures hovering in the 20s didn’t deter the veterans from honoring one of their own.
“It was a good day,” Bruns said. “Most everybody there was from one veterans organization or another. In the veteran community we take care of our own.”
A U.S. Navy veteran, Bruns said when you join the U.S. military, you’ve earned the right to be honored when delivered to your final resting place. “Once upon a time you wrote that blank check,” he said. “You deserve a proper funeral.”