Vietnam’s Larry Casey Faced An Unaccompanied Burial. Strangers Found His Family — And Showed Up In Droves.
A Vietnam War veteran received his second funeral service with military honors on Tuesday, 16 years after he died.
Two hundred people turned up at the Baltimore National Cemetery to honor U.S. Army Capt. Larry Casey at what they thought was going to be an unaccompanied burial service for veterans whose family members cannot be located.
But thanks to the power of social media, Casey’s widow was located in Georgia, and his daughter, Leah Casey, was found in Texas before the funeral service was held. Both women flew into Baltimore on Tuesday morning to attend the ceremony, which included the presentation of the American flag to the widow, a three-gun salute and a bugler playing “Taps.”
Though the funeral hinged on a misunderstanding, it turned out to be what the cemetery’s director, Michael D. Brophy described as “the best of all possible outcomes.” Casey’s widow, Jan Casey, said her husband would have been “dumbfounded and humbled” by the outpouring of support from the people he thought of as his “weird and wonderful family” of military veterans and law enforcement personnel.
Casey served in the Army from 1966 to 1970, Brophy said. After he was discharged, he went on to a distinguished career with what is now the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, working at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. He died in 2002 at age 54 after suffering a heart attack brought on by a case of the flu, Jan Casey said.
A service with full military honors was held at the time for the captain, who was cremated. Jan Casey said some of her husband’s ashes were scattered on the training center’s explosives range, while others were disbursed at a site that includes a Native American burial mound. But a portion of Casey’s ashes was placed in an urn and given to the captain’s best friend, Joseph C. “Cliff” Lund of Severna Park.
Lund died in February. Later, when two of his friends were packing up his belongings, they found the urn containing Casey’s ashes.