The American Legion has a new national program called “Missing In America Project” (MIA Project) pointed at finding the veterans among nearly 7,000 Americans who died and were never buried.
The purpose of the MIA Project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations.
The ashes of Michael H. Carden of Plainfield and those of two Bergen County veterans are to be honored on Friday, May 15, at Gen. Doyle Cemetery in Wrightstown.
To date, MIA Project representatives have visited 648 funeral homes and found the cremated remains of 6,642 people, of which 571 were identified as veterans, according to information posted as the website http://www.miap.us.
So far, at least 387 veterans have been interred as a result of the project, after having been lost or forgotten on the shelves in storage at mortuaries and funeral homes across the country.
Funeral Services will be at Arlington National Cemetery on May 29, for three such forgotten heroes, Johnnie Franklin Callahan, James William Dunn and Isaiah Mays.
Johnnie Franklin Callahan
While at sea aboard the U.S.S. Aulick 569 in the Navy during World War II, Callahan was a Boatswain’s Mate First Class when a Japanese aircraft dropped a live bomb onto the deck of his ship. He was awarded the Silver Star, our nation’s third highest award exclusively for combat valor, in recognition of heroism for picking up the bomb and throwing it into the ocean, saving countless lives.
Callahan died on June 22, 1995 but his family kept his ashes with the hope it would be possible to fulfill his dream of being buried at Arlington with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.
James William Dunn
Dunn, who retired Sept. 30, 1975 with 35 years in the US Army as a medical aid specialist, died on May 19, 2008.
When his base in Vietnam came under heavy attack, Dunn retrieved a number of wounded soldiers without regard to his own safety, administered life saving techniques and carried them to safety, demonstrating heroism for which he also received Silver Star and he was also decorated with a Bronze Star with “V”, the Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign ribbon.
Having completed his 21 years of USA service, he continued serving – this time as a foster parent – over the years impacting the lives for over 250 children, fostering as many as 11 children in his home at one time.
Dunn’s service will be remembered when his remains are interred at Arlington.
Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Isaiah Mays, a liberated slave who became a Buffalo Solder—African American cavalry troops patrolling the wild west—who was buried in a pauper’s grave known at the asylum where he spent his last years before passing away in 1925.
Mays left the Army in 1893 and worked as a laborer in Arizona and New Mexico until 1922, when he applied to the United States Government for a federal pension and was denied as not qualified.
In March, Mays’ remains were disinterred from the Arizona State Hospital Cemetery in Phoenix, cremated and on May 29, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.