Homeless Veteran’s Funeral at National Cemetery Draws Huge Crowd
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — On one of the hottest days of the year, hundreds of people turned out to honor a veteran they did not know.
It was a Chattanooga veteran who had no family to mourn him at his funeral.
Navy Chaplain, Commander Phil Samarall said in his opening remarks, that folks were not only there at the National Cemetery to honor and remember Richard Lance Deal, but also to honor veterans everywhere. The outpouring of support from the community did just that.
“Chattanooga is amazing. The gathering here today was more than I ever thought would have come forth. As I was pulling in, tears were just rolling down my face, I was just – loss for words, I didn’t know what to say, I just immediately started crying at all the people that came to pay their respects for him,” said Katie Schober, caregiver for Mr. Deal.
Katie Schober spent the last 10 months caring for Richard Deal, and was quite emotional, especially when receiving the flag that had draped his coffin.
She had recently seen his life start to turn around for the better.
“He wanted to get out and be able to get a job again and that’s what he did – that’s what he – when he started working for the Goodwill, and he’d worked there for three months before he passed, and it was doing him great. His health was getting better, he had lost 30 pounds since he started working there,” said Ms. Schober.
Retired Navy Captain Mickey McCamish helped make this special service known in the community.
“For a veteran that was simply going to be buried in the ground, and for the community to be made aware of the sacrifice that he made for all of us so that we are in the land of the free and for the community to come forward like it has, that just says a lot, of how the community feels about veterans,” Mickey McCamish, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.).
“A veteran, whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve is someone who at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of, up to and including his life,” said Commander Phil Samerall, Navy Chaplain.
(SINGING): “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch, like me. . .”
“He just needed a little motivation and a little confidence with somebody telling him, ‘You can still do this, don’t give up.’, and that’s what I was there for. I was always encouraging everything for him and always pushing him to do better, said Ms. Schober.
The burial with full military honors today was the second one this week for a veteran with no family and few friends at the time of his death.
Yesterday, it was a former Marine from middle Tennessee.
Local veterans tell us, it won’t be the last.