200 Strangers Attend Funeral of WWII Veteran With No Living Relatives: 'Thank You For Your Service'
When she joined the Navy in 1944, Serina Vine was following in the footsteps of her father, who served his country during World War I.
She never married, had no children, and at the age of 91 she had outlived every member of her family. But at her funeral Tuesday, more than 200 strangers showed up to make sure she wasn't alone on her final journey.
Veterans and active service members showed up to honor Vine, who spent the last 20 years of her life at the VA's Community Living Center in Washington, D.C., and had once been homeless. She was buried with full military honors.
Army Maj. Jaspen Boothe said she received an email last week saying only four people were expected at Vine's ceremony at the Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia, according to The Free- Lance Star.
"We are all a testament to what we do when we are called to honor our fellow brothers and sisters," she told the gathering of sailors, soldiers and Marines, the paper reported.
Boothe reached out to military groups, asking for people to come and honor Vine.
Retired Marine William Jones organized the funeral after a friend told him about Vine's funeral and the handul of people who were going to attend.
"I said 'that's unacceptable,''' he told InsideEdition.com. He searched online for information about Vine. He discovered her parents' names in old U.S. Census records. He learned she had been homeless from the VA, he said.
With other service veteran friends, he put out word of Vine's upcoming funeral, and figured about 20 or 30 people would show up.
"Thirty minutes before the funeral starts, there's a traffic jam of people trying to get into the cemetery," he said. "I see a Marine Color Guard in the distance and they gave her a 21-gun salute.
"It was just absolutely wonderful. It just seemed like there ws some higher power bringing us all together," Jones said.
Service members lined up to place a hand on Vine's metal casket. Some wiped away tears.
Vine worked in radio intelligence, spoke three languages and would later graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1954, a time when women were not always encouraged to further their education.
The Marine Corps Systems Command put photos of the service on its Facebook page. "Thank you for your service, Ms. Vine," said the accompanying post.