Seventy-year-old Navy veteran Jerry Wayne Pino died in Long Beach, Mississippi on December 12 after serving our country in Vietnam. Pino, sadly, died alone with no friends or family coming to the funeral home where his body lay.
But Pino would not be buried alone. As reported by Fox News' Todd Starnes, six high school boys stepped forward as voluntary pallbearers to see off a man who helped fight for our freedom.
After weeks passed at Riemann Family Funeral Homes and Pino's body was still unclaimed, Cathy Warden, an employee of the funeral home, discussed the distressing situation to her colleague Eva Boomer, a veteran herself.
“Something had to be done with respect,” said Warden. “We had to give him what he deserved. Nobody should go alone.”
Boomer suggested they ask the local high school if anyone would be willing to serve as a pallbearer for Pino. Though it was Christmas break at the time, the two gave it a shot.
Warden told her son Bryce, a Long Beach High School teen, about the situation. In turn, Bryce found five more young men who were willing to serve at the stranger's funeral "within a matter of minutes."
They buried Petty Officer Third Class Jerry Pino on a Tuesday. The sun was shining and there was a cool, gulf coast breeze meandering through the Biloxi National Cemetery. An honor guard stood at attention.
The boys were smartly dressed in khaki pants and Sunday shirts and neck ties. They solemnly took their places on either side of the flag-draped coffin and escorted a man they did not know to his final resting place.
"It was the right thing to do," said Bailey Griffin, 17. "He served our country. He fought for our rights. For him to be buried with nobody there was just sad. I told myself I was going to do it and I did it."
Warden said she "cried the whole way through" the service. “He had no one there. This veteran had nobody standing there but these boys.”
The Long Beach high schoolers were presented with the flag that was draped over Pino's coffin.
"It touched my heart," said Warden.
"Our community is teaching these boys from the heart how it should be – how to care," she added.
The flag has been encased in glass, along with a plaque that has Pino's name on it.
"There’s talk about putting the flag on display at the high school or perhaps inside the locker room where four of the pallbearers play football," writes Starnes. "It would be a fitting tribute to a man who died alone but who was buried surrounded by his fellow countrymen."