He may have been an unknown soldier in life, but Glenn McCoy Shelton’s death brought hundreds of strangers together to honor the former Marine with a dignified sendoff.
Shelton, 68, a Vietnam veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, died Nov. 26, WXIN reported.
Indiana Funeral Care organized Saturday’s gathering by spreading the word on social media.
According to his obituary, his “family information is unknown.”
"He fought for us so we could stand here today and so I thought, he was abandoned in life at some point but we don't want him to be abandoned in death," Sara Thompson, general manager for Indiana Funeral Care, told WTHR.
“Essentially, we have date of birth and his last known address and that is essentially it. We were able to find out he is a veteran and that he is a Marine, served in Vietnam and during that time was awarded a Purple Heart," Thompson told WTHR.
Birth indexes in Kentucky list a Glenn McCoy Shelton, an African-American born April 16, 1949, in Louisville. Reached by telephone Sunday afternoon by Cox Media Group, Thompson confirmed this was the same person. According to a Virginia marriage certificate, Shelton was the son of Alvin John Shelton and Christine Elizabeth Bright. His first marriage, on June 5, 1981 in Roanoke, Virginia, was to a divorcee, Selma Jean Chilous Davis.
Shelton’s mother died in 2001.
Because Shelton had no direct relatives who contacted the funeral home, Indiana Funeral Care arranged the ceremony. It had to move the site of the service to the Allison Christian Church in Indianapolis “due to overwhelming support by the community,” the funeral home noted in a Facebook post.
“It’s just absolutely wonderful,” Russell Pryor, commander for the VFW District 11, told WXIN. “It shows me that no matter when you served, who you served with or where you served, we’re here to support you.”
Shelton was buried at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison. Because Shelton was one of 361,794 veterans to receive a Purple Heart, his funeral services were paid for, WTHR reported.
People who attended Saturday’s event received a dog tag with Shelton’s name engraved, WXIN reported.