MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Veterans, organizations, and community members gathered in Mission today for an Unaccompanied Veteran Burial for U.S. Navy Veteran Quartermaster Seaman Recruit Mark Joseph Griffin.
Griffin was born in 1955 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1973 to 1975, according to the Texas General Land Office.
The Veterans Land Board provided military honors through the Unaccompanied Veteran Program.
The ceremony held at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery was opened to the community as Griffin did not have a next-of-kin.
“Today we were paying respects to a fallen veteran and as far as we know, he’s unaccompanied, he didn’t have any relatives,” Tony Cordova, Veteran and commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8788 color guard, said.
Cordova joined other members of the VFW in the military honors.
“Whether he has family or not he is a veteran and he deserves the respect that we can give him and for that reason, we are here in force,” he said.
The traditional military honors included a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, and the ceremonial folding and presentation of the U.S. flag.
Mission’s assistant fire chief, Robert Alvarez, received the ceremonial flag at the ceremony.
“Family could not be here. So, to be here to represent the family during the ceremony was an honor to be able to do that,” Chief Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the moment was special, especially as a U.S. Navy veteran himself.
“Very honorable, humbling as well. Not knowing Seaman Griffin, still, there was a bond, just the fact that, serving for this country,” Jose Gonzalez, U.S. Navy Ops Spec. 1st Class said.
Although Griffin did not have a next-of-kin, Veteran Homer Gallegos said today was an exception.
“He’s not unaccompanied here today. All his brothers were here from all the branches, I think were here, representing,” Gallegos said.