"It was right there." Families of deceased veterans find their missing loved ones after watching newscast

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

Veteran headstone (Source WRDW)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Almost 40 veteran’s gravestones once thought missing still need to be claimed. News 12 has been following the journey since the beginning when more than 100 headstones were discovered at an abandoned funeral home.

Just last week, some families saw our coverage about delivering these headstones with honors and spotted their own family members.

The families have been looking for their loved ones for more than a decade. The mom and daughter News 12 spoke with today says their loved one passed away 42 years ago and he's buried at this cemetery.

They ended up buying their own headstone but now they say they're reliving the loss all over again.

"He was my heart," said Patricia Williams.

Patricia lost her husband, Luke Williams Jr. in 1977. He was only 28-years-old.

"I loved him and he was taken way too early," said Williams.

They were high school sweethearts but right out of school he was drafted into the Army.

"He served during the Vietnam War and at that time we had a son which he never got to see until he was about five, six months old but he was doing his part for his country," said Williams.

Patricia and her family had no clue that there was a headstone here with his name on it, along with more than 100 other families.

"I think that was the most cruelest thing anyone could've ever done. It was an injustice to them as veterans and they gave their time, their service and some of them their lives and it was just discarded as if it didn't happen," said Williams.

It was her daughter Anita Hicks, who was only 5 when her dad died, who saw her dad’s headstone on News 12.

"All I saw was Luke Williams Jr. and it was just like that's my dad," said Hicks.

It was one of the 6 random headstones chosen to be on display during a news conference.

"It was right there, focused right there. I really think it was a sign because you never know what someone is going through in their life and that to me was like my dad is still here with me," said Hicks.

Our story also caught the attention of one Richmond County Marshal who saw a headstone with his father's name on it too.

They'll be delivering another batch of gravestones Saturday morning. Volunteers are invited to meet at Dyess Park across from the coroner's office at 10 a.m. for a full military honors ceremony, before going out to make the delivery.

To download the entire list of missing veterans, click here.

Copyright 2019 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.



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