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Niles asking public to attend funeral for Vietnam veteran without a family

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NILES, Mich. — A Niles funeral home is pleading with the public to attend a funeral for an Army veteran because the staff said most of his family is no longer living. 

Wayne Wilson, 67, died in May at a hospital in Ann Arbor. The funeral is set for  Wednesday, July 17 at 2 p.m. at Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles. 

Wilson, a native of Niles, described by staff at Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Services, as a happy man who could tell a lot of jokes. Drew Mikel, an intern at the funeral home, said Wilson loved his hometown and the country he served during the Vietnam War. 

“Everyone knew him loved him,” said Wilson. “He didn’t have any relatives that that lived him but he definitely has people that would consider him family that are still around.”

Mikel said after putting out a post asking for the public to attend the service, they have gotten many responses. August Garritano, a Niles native, said he didn’t know Wilson but plans on going to the funeral. 

“Give him the respect that he absolutely deserves,” he said. 

According to the staff at the cemetery, Wilson would place American flags on each grave every year for Memorial Day. Garritano said it broke his heart when he learned Wilson didn’t have any family around. 

“He still was a soldier in his heart and he showed his respect where respect was due,” said Garritano. 

Wilson will be sent home with the help of American Legion Post 51 in Buchanan, which has a war room that’s a reminder of the men and women that have their lives for America’s freedom. 

“This gentleman served in Vietnam deserves everything that we can honor him with,” said Larry Thompson, Post 51’s Burial Unit chaplain. 

The story of what the funeral home is doing for Wilson has more than a hundred shares online, which include messages of thanks and well-wishes for the Army veteran. Mikel said clearly the staff at the funeral home aren’t the only people who feel support should be shown for this veteran. 

“He’s part of our American family,” he said. 

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