Ft. Jackson, SC (Paul Kirby) - The homeless United States veteran who passed away last month near Lexington was honored Friday with a full funeral that was provided by the generosity of veteran’s groups, the community, and was coordinated in part by Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher and her staff. It was held at the national cemetery at Ft. Jackson in Columbia. What started as an effort to find a way to properly lay Dennis Reidy to rest, eventually became an all-out effort to honor Reidy and two other deceased veterans who had been unclaimed after their deaths.
The SC Patriot Guard Riders streamed into the cemetery before the service. Each of their motorcycles were adorned with flags or riders who wore patches that symbolized their commitment to honoring those who’ve served. These men, women, and even children, stand in a long line as a veteran’s funeral begins holding a white flag-pole with the American flag fluttering from it. Their silent attention is a fitting tribute to each who have entered into a commitment to provide the greatest sacrifice an American can make, offering to put their lives on the line if necessary to protect our freedoms.
Reidy died alone in a wooded area near a small make-shift baseball diamond where children practice. The shaded area has thousands of cars pass nearby daily on several major highways and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department headquarters is a quick walk away. There’s also a shelter that offers food, housing, clothing, and treatment for veterans who are referred through the Veteran’s Administration within a half mile of the spot where Reidy took his last breath. For some reason, perhaps he didn’t know, had some mental or substance abuse problem, he was living there in the woods instead of seeking help that really was a stone’s throw away. Although the local shelter isn’t one where someone can walk in off the street and check themselves in, the staff could help a veteran in need find the services that would eventually get him the help he needs.
Just after some of the coldest weeks of the winter, Reidy’s body was discovered there amongst a cardboard box and other trash or discarded items. Eventually, Coroner Fisher’s staff determined that Reidy had died of natural causes. It was only after doing some digging that Fisher and her staff discovered that the man who died there was Reidy, an air force veteran, who had also served as a Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy in the past.
Members of the American Legion, several other groups and citizens, Greg Moseley and his staff at Moseley’s Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and Fisher’s team all worked toward giving Reidy and the two other veterans whose remains hadn’t been claimed, a proper funeral. Friday was the culmination of those efforts and a beautiful final tribute to the three.