INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dozens of people in central Indiana showed up Friday morning to honor the life and sacrifice of a Navy veteran who died with no known family.
They were strangers to Daniel J. Powell, but they filled the chairs at Sprowl Funeral home to make sure he wasn’t alone.
“I may not have known him, but maybe I wish I had known him,” said Michael Nelson, a U.S. Army veteran who attended the funeral.
Powell was 67 years old when he died Sept. 20 without any known living family, according to Sprowl Funeral and Cremation Care. Not even a photo of Powell could be found.
The Sprowl family heard about a veteran’s body sitting 30 days without being claimed and decided to provide Powell with a funeral, inviting the public to attend.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Ursula Kenner-Washington, the funeral director of Sprowl Funeral and Cremation Care. “This man has given so much of himself, selflessly to this country. It’s only right that we give back to someone who’s given so freely of themselves.”
The funeral home’s co-owner, Lori Hobbs, told News 8 what little they know about Powell came from the Bureau of the U.S. Navy. Powell served as an electrician and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1975, after four years of service.
“He may be lost, but now he’s found, and we’re so grateful for that,” Sharon Owen, of Indianapolis, said after the funeral.
“This isn’t unclaimed,” said Ron Montague, a U.S. Air Force veteran who spoke at the funeral, to applause from the entire room full of people.
“First of all, his soul was claimed by God. Those of us standing here today, we claim this fellow as family. He’s our family. We are his family,” said Montague.
“This man was on a ship. He was on the ship on the USS Guam,” said Pastor Cordell Kenner of Lafayette, said while giving Powell’s eulogy. “This man played a very intricate part in keeping the equipment glowing.”
“The military’s more like a family net system,” Nelson said.
Taylor Thompson, of Brownsburg, didn’t know Powell, either, but she accepted the American flag on behalf of Powell’s unknown family.
“It’s an honor really. I’m blessed to be in this position to accept this flag,” Thompson said.
Along with the full military honors he received, the people of central Indiana gave him a heartfelt farewell.
Powell was laid to rest Friday afternoon at Marion National Cemetery, in Marion, Indiana.