By Michael Abeyta
DENVER (CBS4) – On Wednesday, the names of men were read aloud to people who didn’t even know them. The men gave their lives for the country, but were never given a proper burial and sat unclaimed.
Regardless, Jim Topkoff and the Vietnam Veterans of America #1071 are behind the ceremonies on Wednesday.
“We just felt like it was our responsibility to step up to the plate,” Topkoff said.
The 14 veterans served in World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. One of them was even awarded a Purple Heart.
The group found the cremains of soldiers just sitting at a cemetery in Wheatridge unclaimed.
“Some of them have been sitting on a shelf for 40, 50, 60 years” said Topkoff. “It’s really quite a shame and of course we don’t know why. We just know that they served honorably in the United States military and earned the right to be buried out here.”
The unidentified men are part of a group of 90 veterans who the Vietnam Veterans of America recovered at just this one cemetery since 2015. They endured red tape and lots of effort to perform the ceremonies Wednesday.
“It’s quite a process to go through” said Topkoff.
It’s all so the group can fulfill a promise they made to one another.
“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” Topkoff said.