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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

U.S. Navy aviation specialist airman Jerry Billings served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, risking his life for our freedom every day. This past Christmas Eve, Billings passed away at the age of 69.

The years hadn’t been good to Billings, and by the time of his death he was homeless with no family. After nobody claimed his remains, the OKC Veterans Connect posted a photo to Facebook with information about his funeral in Oklahoma City. They were stunned when the post went viral, and it quickly got shared thousands of times.

Thanks to social media, Billings was not buried alone. Instead, over 750 people showed up to honor him for his life of service. Many of the guests at the Bill Eisenhour Funeral Home in Del City were members of the military or veterans who came from far and wide to pay their respects to the man they never met.

Eventually, a gang of tough bikers pulled up to the funeral to pay their respect as well.

The Dignity Memorial Network, which provides burial services for homeless veterans, stepped up to pay Billings’ funeral expenses.

“Whatever happened in the preceding years when they ended up homeless and somebody had forgotten their name, we want to give them the opportunity to give their name back,” Jared Newman of the Dignity Memorial Network told reporters. “We’ll honor him in death for a decision he made when he was in his 20s.”

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