SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Perfect strangers came together to honor a New Mexico veteran. Army veteran James Griffin died last year with no living family.
Wednesday, he was surrounded by people who wanted to pay their respects. “My son and I took the day off and we’re up here to give him honor,” Tim Evans says.
More than 300 people came to the Santa Fe National Cemetery to pay their respects to army veteran James Griffin. “He could crack some good jokes. He was sharp, he was intelligent, he was well-read,” Mark Hinrichs says.
The 87-year-old veteran died alone in his Los Alamos home back in September with no living relatives. “I am certain there are probably others out there that have been forgotten and not remembered,” says Funeral Director Jim Martinez.
Martinez didn’t want that to be the case for Griffin, so he took to social media and reached out to local veterans organizations. “It just signifies the importance the military and the veterans have in this community. It’s a tearjerker to see this many people come,” Evans says.
Griffin served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s during the Korean War. Local veterans who attended the burial say it’s veterans like Griffin who paved the way for them. “I’m very appreciative of the people, the servicemen and women who came before me that led the way for us to do what we do today,” says Tech. SGT. Ryan Santella.
And no matter when or where they served, they’re all connected. “They do and will always have a family,” Evans says.
Those who knew Griffin say he would have been taken aback by the showing. “He would be probably humbled a lot. He never expected anybody to put a fuss on over him,” Hinrichs says.
Griffin was a corporal in the army. After he retired from the military, he worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1980s and 90s.