Army veteran getting proper burial after urn with remains are tossed in trash

Posted at 8:19 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-28 08:11:15-04

The cream-colored urn found in the basement of an Akron home on Goodyear Boulevard was a riddle to Cliff Thomas, the man who found it.

"James E. Riddle, U.S. Army Retired," was engraved on the urn, but Thomas had no idea who should get the precious remains.

Thomas found the urn on a shelf while cleaning the basement in December, shortly after he had moved into the rental property with his girlfriend, Lisa Kilmire.

Thomas, an Army veteran himself, was bothered that someone would abandon the ashes of a man who served our country.

"It needs to get where it needs to be, proper burial in a proper place other than the basement," Thomas told News 5.

The couple began to do research over the Internet and discovered Riddle was a Captain in the Army during the Vietnam era. He was from Kentucky and died in 2006.

Kilmire was able to contact a man connected with the Riddle family, but he refused to take the urn. Instead, he dumped it in a trash can outside the house, which stunned and angered Kilmire.

"I was horrified for someone that served our country and protected us from harm for someone to do that to him," Kilmire said.

Kilmire became even more determined to give Riddle a proper burial and contacted the Veteran's Service Commission which referred her to Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

Overdue honor

Cemetery officials confirmed Riddle's honorable military service and got the wheels in motion to set up a military service for the veteran.

It will take place May 27 at 10 a.m. Several Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will attend the service over the Memorial Day weekend. After the ceremony, hundreds of the scouts will place small American flags at each grave site.

"We're going to make sure the veteran gets everything he deserves, a proper burial and a public that honors him," said Matt Metschke, the cemetery director.

During the service, an American flag will be presented to Thomas and Kilmire who battled to make sure Riddle's remains were respected.

"Even though I didn't personally know the man, he deserves a proper burial and it's going to be emotional," Kilmire said.

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