On December 17, 2009, fifty-six people attended a graveside service held for Delbert E. Hahn and his wife Barbara in Bushnell, Florida.
What was strange about this funeral?
- Not one person in attendance knew Delbert or Barbara.
- Delbert died in 1983 and his wife passed away around 2003.
- Delbert, a World War II US Army veteran who had received five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, and his wife's cremated remains were found in the trash by teens.
A teen looking through a pile of trash finds a fishing rod, and tells his older sister. Carol Sturgell then brings her boyfriend (both are also teens), Mike Colt, and additional searches of the discarded items produce one of Delbert's purple hearts, the certificate for a Bronze Star, and three filled urns (the third is believed to be the remains of Delbert's mother-in-law).--------------------
The recovered Bronze Star Certificate includes the notation:
"...for heroism in ground combat in the vicinity of Normandy, France ... June 1944."
Delbert had survived the Normandy Invasion.
The items are turned over to the Tampa Police Department where investigators learn about US Army Staff Sergeant Hahn's courageous military service record, and piece together how his remains and the others were left in a pile of garbage (that information is here).
The Tampa Police Department, the Florida National Guard, employees of the Florida National Cemetery, and others made sure that Delbert receives a burial with full military honors (his wife was also buried with him, but unfortunately officials have been unable to lay the third person to rest).
Despite all efforts by authorities, not one relative or friend could be located that would attend the Delberts' funeral.
Thank you to Sturgell, Colt, and all of the officers involved in this case and their extra efforts to ensure that this soldier was not forgotten.
Have a safe Memorial Day--I am thankful to be able to set aside some time to reflect on those who have given so much for me and my family.