JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Active duty Marines, veterans and people in the community came out to the Coastal Carolina State Veteran’s Cemetery Wednesday to honor a man they’ve never met.
It all came down to a simple motto — no man left behind.
That’s why one group of veterans came together to give the man they’ve never met a proper burial.
That man is Lance Corporal Andrew Mauney, a former infantryman with Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.
Mauney died in January at the age of 53. He was from Virginia and served three years in the Marines before being honorably discharged in 1983.
Not much is known about him except that he was homeless, on the streets in Wilmington and without family.
No one claimed his body, but one woman who was his neighbor says her family took him like one of their own.
“It relieved me that he was finally getting to have a proper burial and he didn’t have to sit on that shelf no more,” said the Thomason family.
The family said they did all they could to give Mauney a burial ceremony, but his body wasn’t allowed to be released to them.
After no one claimed his remains for nearly 10 months, and all other paths were exhausted by The Missing in America Project to find next of kin, it was decided that he would be laid to rest by his brothers in arms.
That’s because once a Marine, always a Marine. And for veterans, active duty Marines and folks in the community the term “unclaimed was just unacceptable.
“He’s our brother,” said Retired Marine Bill Holsclaw. “We don’t know him by face, we don’t know him by name, we don’t know him by actions, but we know one thing…we’ve walked in his boots and he’s walked in ours.”
Marines laid Mauney to rest with full military honors.
The Thomason family says they want his life to be remembered, “Just remember him that he served this country, not just for himself but for all of us.”
All while hundreds looked on to remember the service he gave to America, including his littlest friend.
“He used to come over and spend time with us and be a part of our family,” said Mrs. Thomason’s daughter.