No one can say that the life of a military veteran is easy. After surviving difficult and traumatic experiences on the battlefield, many veterans also struggle with issues that follow them their entire lives. Some, meanwhile, are left to face these issues without the support of family.
But in a gesture of respect and compassion, a group of bikers turned up as the pallbearers at the funeral of a marine who died alone.
Robert Krause had no living family members, so no one expected him to be honored at a funeral. He was scheduled to be laid to rest with little ceremony after his death in early 2019.
But Nick Morales and David Allen weren’t about to let that happen.
Morales, himself a veteran and a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, took it upon himself to make sure that Krause was given full honors at his funeral — all at the hands of a group of compassionate bikers.
“I’ve heard it said that a veteran dies twice: once on the battlefield and the second time when people stop saying his name,” said Morales. “If there’s anything we can do to prevent the latter, so be it.”
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association turned out to Krause’s funeral in full force, accompanying the hearse with a motorcade.
They were intent on saying his name — and remembering it since Krause had no family who could remember him.
“Escorting this veteran with no family to his final resting place is the last thing we can do to help that veteran,” said David Allen, another member of the Association.
The cause is near and dear to Allen.
He was shocked and saddened to learn that roughly one dozen veterans die each year in just the region of Tampa Bay, Florida, only to have their bodies remain unclaimed. He thought that was a heartbreaking situation for men and women who deserved a respectful burial.
“It transcends service limits, it transcends age,” said Morales. “It’s our duty.”
None of the people attending the funeral ever met Krause during his life.
But now, they consider it their solemn duty to remember his name and his service.
The problem of deceased veterans going unclaimed by family members is felt around the country. Some cemeteries make it a priority to hold regular services to honor those who did not receive personal funerals or who have no family to remember them.
Krause’s funeral ended with a ceremonial folding of the American flag and the playing of taps.
“It’s not just taps for Mr. Krause,” said Morales. “It’s taps for all of our fallen. It’s embedded in us.”
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is a group that combines shared experiences and personal interests. All its members served in a branch of the United States Armed Forces. Now, they are motorcycle hobbyists who enjoy riding in their free time. But their shared respect for the military and for fellow veterans comes through in their efforts for people like Krause.
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