Mourners overflowed from the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery rotunda on a cold and gloomy Friday morning, many braced with umbrellas and raincoats after the early morning drizzles. And they huddled together to honor a man they never knew.
Leo Stokley died Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Waters of Cheatham in Ashland City. The Murfreesboro man was 69.
According to his obituary posted by Boyd Funeral Home, Stokley was born June 5, 1949 in Greenville, South Carolina. He served in the United States Marine Corps and did a tour in Vietnam. He was buried with military honors Friday morning at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Pegram.
That’s about all many people knew of Stokley when they arrived at the cemetery Friday.
Bob Counter of the Cheatham County Veterans Service Office said that as he and his staff filtered through paperwork so Stokley could be buried with military honors, they learned that Stokley is considered an “unclaimed” veteran.
“When we found out that he was considered an unclaimed veteran, which means he has no family, we wanted to make sure that he got claimed,” Counter explained.
He posted Stokley’s obituary to the Cheatham County Veterans Service office Facebook page, along with a call for “Team Cheatham, and especially our veterans” to pay their respects to the unclaimed veteran at the cemetery on Friday.
The post garnered 47 shares in about two days. Counter said others also posted about Stokley and shared their own calls, and through the “power of social media,” a crowd of supporters — including fellow military members — arrived at the cemetery.
“It finally got to where we had this (crowd of) several hundred people here,” Counter said. “No one knew Leo, but everyone honored Leo.
“We wanted to make sure he got his military honors, the recognition he deserves, and that he didn’t die alone.”
HT: Huck Funn