(98) Ashes to Ashes: Always Honor the Warrior

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Ashes in a Box

My heart warmed reading a story in the Stars and Stripes about recovered ashes that belonged to a Civil War soldier, who received the Medal of Honor in 1870. Sgt. Charles Schroeter’s ashes were recovered in a box held in an unmarked crypt stored in the basement of a National Cemetery in San Diego. Thanks to the commitment and determination of a group of Veterans, Schroeter’s story as a hero was uncovered. His remains will be buried at the Miramar National Cemetery in July.

“Even though he’s gone, he’s still a soldier. You never leave a fallen comrade.” Kenneth Drylie, National Training Center Spokesman

Ashes in a Wall

Ironically, I encountered a similar experience while working for the City of San Diego in the late 1990s. Councilman Juan Vargas delivered to my desk two boxes of ashes. “Please find out who he is and why his ashes would be hidden in the walls of a house the city just tore down.”

After weeks of research, we finally discovered the remains belonged to a Vietnam Veteran. We found he had been honorably discharged. We never did find out how his ashes came to be hidden in the walls of this particular dilapidated house.

“He’s a Veteran, who served our country. We need to honor him.” Juan Vargas

The Councilman was adamant about burying this Veteran’s ashes in a National Cemetery.

It did not take long before we received confirmation that he would receive a full military burial thanks to the persistence of then San Diego City Councilman, Juan Vargas—now Congressman Vargas for the State of California.

Another Postcard from Miss Molly 

DSCN2124Miss Molly returned from a few days of touring southern Colorado. She frolicked in rivers, chased an overstuffed rabbit, barked at a few runners with dogs, and took long walks with her alpha human mom. While we know she enjoyed herself, we know she is happy to be home. You see, she went on a hunger strike while traveling, going three days without eating a bite. We haven’t figured this out yet but as soon as she arrived home, she downed a full day’s food in just a few minutes.

Molly in her car seat

Molly writes:

Just like a proper burial for the ashes of two honored Veterans, it is good to be home! 

Post your Comments: 

Do you know a Veteran, who was honored with a burial in a National Cemetery? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

Source cited: Stars and Stripes, Military History, June 2, 2015

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.