EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Vietnam veteran who passed away last month was laid to rest Tuesday morning.
Air Force Veteran Edwin Carl Hughes had no family. But thanks to a project by a senior at Notre Dame High School, Hughes received a funeral with military honors. Photojournalist Tom Gregory has the amazing story from East Stroudsburg.
“As the Coroner of Monroe County, we put information into the newspaper for him to be claimed. Unfortunately, he was not claimed and a young lady by the name of Heidi Martens stepped forward and she has orchestrated the services today along with the help of myself, St. Matthew’s and the students at Notre Dame High School,” said Tom Yanac, Monroe County Coroner.
“This is very unique. Generally, when we have an indigent case here in Monroe County we go forward with a burial but not to this magnitude,” added Yanac.
Heidi Martens is the person behind this remembrance of life. She is a senior at Notre Dame High School.
“My project, I established the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Ministry at Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg,” said Martens.
“Saint Joseph of Arimathea was the man who assisted with the burial of Christ. So in the ministry, we offer pallbearers, altar servers and chorus to come together to mourn unclaimed bodies. Mr. Hughes was in the service for two years and then he resided in Tennessee and was in the National Guard for about seven years. He was born in Stroudsburg, Pa. We came together about a month ago to put all this together,” Heidi told us.
“Goodbye old friend! Goodbye old soldier!”
“We’re not going to let any veteran get left behind. We want to make sure every veteran is taken care of,” said Tom Bowditch, Commander Monroe County Honor Guard.
We asked Bowditch: “What do you think about kids like that getting involved?”
He told us, “It’s actually fantastic because as they get older if some of them are going into the military, we need them to replace us. The majority of us are 70 to 80 years old,” Bowditch noted.
“It wasn’t easy,” Heidi told us adding “But it was worth it.”
The Yanac Funeral Home donated the casket and staff to help lay Edwin Hughes to rest. He was buried at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.