John James Murphy, an Irish American Vietnam veteran, died in Elgin, Illinois just before Christmas

When Irish American veteran John James Murphy died in Elgin, Illinois just before Christmas, the Symonds-Madison Funeral Home was unable to locate his relatives before his funeral ceremony on Wednesday, January 29. 

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Murphy, who was born in California, reportedly had siblings, one child, and grandchildren, but the funeral home was unable to locate them so they issued an online plea for people to attend the Vietnam veteran's funeral.

Their story went viral, and the Elgin funeral home was packed on Wednesday morning as people showed up in the dozens to pay their respects to the former soldier before he was buried in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. 

“It’s very important to us that no veteran is left behind, that they are properly taken care of,” Joy Symonds of the funeral home said.

Dan Symonds, a first sergeant with the US Army Reserves, said that it was important for everyone to get a decent burial. 

“To me it’s important. Everybody deserves a decent burial and these guys, it doesn’t matter where they served, even if they didn’t see combat, they deserve to be honored.”

Hundreds of strangers are packing an Elgin funeral home to say goodbye to John James Murphy, a Vietnam Vet who died without a family. ⁦

— Dane Placko FOX 32 (@dsplacko) January 29, 2020

Murphy served as a jet engine mechanic in the US Air Force from 1966 to 1969 and earned the National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation and Vietnam Service Medal for his service. 

Outside of his military career, Murphy worked as a welder and a shopkeeper. 

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