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WRIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — Flying flags and wearing everything from biker jackets to dress suits, a large, diverse crowd assembled Friday to say farewell to a man they never knew. Last month, 77-year-old Peter Turnpu died alone in his Waterford home.
With no family to notify or settle his affairs, burial plans were up to Leroy Wooster, the funeral director at Leroy P. Wooster Funeral Home and Crematory.
“He was a U.S. Army veteran, he served during Vietnam,” Wooster said.
He contacted several New Jersey veterans groups and agencies in hopes of giving Turnpu a proper military funeral.
“Instead of just bringing him to the cemetery by myself, I wanted him to be honored by fellow veterans in this way,” said Wooster.
To Wooster’s amazement, hundreds sent condolences and showed up to pay respects at the Brigadier Gen. William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown.
Honored with song and ceremony, Turnpu is something of a symbol for veterans who serve and sacrifice for our country while asking for little in return.
“It’s sad that the gentleman has no family or friends, you know,” William Boyd, with the Sons of American Legion, said. “I’m just glad that Leroy asked us to come out to do this for this gentleman.”
“He was a veteran and we’re all brothers at heart,” Vietnam veteran Jack McGrath said. “He didn’t have no family, he didn’t have no relatives. That’s why we’re here for him.”
And in a gesture to all of those gone yet not forgotten, Turnpu’s burial flag is going to the National League of POW and MIA Families.
While Turnpu left this life without any immediate family or relatives, he moves on to the next with a community of military and American family.