CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake veteran has been dead for almost two weeks, but his loved ones haven’t been able to bury him at the military cemetery where he wanted because family members couldn’t prove his date of discharge.
“The house is quiet. I leave the TV on all the time … I miss him, I really do. When you’re married to someone for 51 years, it’s kind of hard to let go,” said Patsy Powell, who met her husband Jim Powell after his career in the armed forces was over.
“I can’t say anything bad about Jim, except that he was too good,” Powell said. That’s what she says people say about her husband, who died on June 12.
Jim’s body has been at Sturtevant Funeral Home in Portsmouth since his passing, but his burial is in limbo. The family doesn’t have the date or details about his discharge, which would qualify him for a burial at the Albert Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.
“There’s no record at all, and that’s what I’m concerned about, not only for my husband, but for millions of veterans around the world, Powell told 10 On Your Side. “I’m getting the run around, and I want something to be done.”
There are no records for tens of thousands of older veterans, like Jim, because in 1973, an inferno burned records at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. But there are some things known about Jim Powell: he joined the Air Force in December 1952, was at Sampson Air Force Base in April 1953, was stationed at Biggs Air Force Base in Texas in 1954, and was discharged from the USAF in 1957 or 1958.
10 On Your Side discovered Jim’s service number in a letter and gave it to Burial Operations Manager Susan Ulrich at the Veterans Cemetery. She said 75 to 80 percent of veterans do not have the documentation to authorize burial in the cemetery.
“The veterans stash away the paperwork. They are filed away. They get lost over the years,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich sent the information WAVY.com gave her to St. Louis and made this prediction when asked if she thinks Powell will be buried in the cemetery: “Yes, I do. The process is just time consuming.”
At 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Ulrich called 10 On Your Side to confirm that Powell’s discharge information was indeed burned in the fire St. Louis fire. But they can confirm he was in the military and he will be buried in the veterans cemetery.
10 On Your Side called Patsy and delivered the news.
“I think it’s great. I don’t know what you did, but whatever it was helped. It is fantastic. Thank you so much. I’ve been fighting everybody and nobody would do anything,” she said.
Jim Powell will likely be buried Monday at 11 a.m. exactly where he wanted to be buried — a Veteran’s final resting place at Albert Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.
Ulrich, who is very good at what she does, tells all veterans to get a pre-application for interment so these issues are resolved before the time of death. You download that form and find other information about that process by clicking here.