Reporting Ian Schwartz
CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — A Korean War veteran died, and no one seemed to notice.
No family came forward to claim his body, and no one was there to give him a proper funeral.
On Wednesday, that changed as dozens of strangers gathered to say goodbye to Private First Class Joe Sobol.
The Marine was buried at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. No one from his family showed up, but people he had never met showed up in support of the veteran.
A steady stream of people filled Reichert’s Funeral Home in Citrus Heights on Wednesday. The former military men and women knew little of the man in the center of the room, except his name.
Sobol, an 80-year-old homeless vet, died with no family to claim him. He was born on April 6, 1933, and died on Oct. 31.
No one seemed to know how this Marine ended up homeless, but one thing was clear: He deserved better.
“The whole premise behind our program is to give these homeless and abandoned veterans the credit and the merit they deserve,” said funeral manager Marc Reichert.
We found one man who briefly knew Sobol.
“We were addicted to reading the obituaries, because we just don’t want to find our name in there,” Bill Chambers said.
Chambers saw Joe’s name in the newspaper.
In the 1950s, the two were classmates at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento.
“He was just a genuine guy, but he just wasn’t inclined to the academic life,” Chambers said.
Joe dropped out and enlisted. No one knows what happened to him after that.
After the service, military members rode with him to the cemetery.
“I think it’s the best thing you can do,” said Rick Proietti, one of the riders. “It’s an honor, it’s a true honor to be able to do this, and I do it every chance I get.”
This Marine may have died without a home or family, but his new home here is filled with brothers and sisters who all gave what they could for our country.
The entire funeral service was paid for by Dignity Memorial Funeral Services.They have a program specifically for burying veterans without any next of kin.