It’s been 50 years since Carl Brannan died, and all that time his remains have sat unclaimed.
Without a family to say goodbye, the military stepped in to make sure the sacrifices that he and three others made are not forgotten.
Friday the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, along with the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, held a funeral at the state veterans cemetery with full military honors for Brannan and fellow sailor Charles Noonan, who both died in Darian, along with Airman Arthur Chappell who passed away in Meriden, and Soldier George Church, who died in Wallingford.
The four men served in World War II and died in Connecticut between 1966 and 2001. These men, who served their country proudly, left this world without loved ones to remember them.
Tasked with taking their unclaimed remains to their final resting place Friday were fellow veterans.
“It just doesn’t seem right that any veteran should go to their grave totally unaccompanied and alone,” said retired First Lt. Eileen Torpey-Richard, who served as a nurse with the Army.
“We’re all brothers and sisters in the service and so we work together and we honor each other,” added retired Petty Officer Third Class Kelvin Bunnell, who served with the Navy.
They were among dozens of Connecticut veterans and active duty members who crowded the state’s veterans cemetery for the service.
“We will never leave a fallen comrade behind,” Connecticut Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi told the gathered crowd. “These departed brothers stepped forward to fight for freedom and in doing so held our flag high as a symbol of liberty, freedom, and justice not only for Americans but for millions across the globe.”
“They served with us, they’re our comrades,” said Torpey-Richard.
They were posthumously awarded their Connecticut Wartime service medals, a final act to honor the service and sacrifice of these four men.
“To ensure that those who were once forgotten are never forgotten again,” Saadi explained.
Since 2008, the state has made it a goal of providing these military men and women the dignity of a burial with full military honors. Friday’s ceremony was the fifth one since those protocols, the first of its kind in the nation, were put into place.