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Veterans Laid to Rest

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Rochester: Veterans Laid to Rest
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Two local soldiers, both of whom fought in past wars, with two different stories. But, both were laid to rest on Friday at a national cemetery in Bath. Seth Voorhees found out why a group of local people felt it their duty to be a part of it.

HENRIETTA, N.Y. -- "Today we have a mission to take two veterans down to Bath National Cemetery," said Barry Rickett of the Veteran Recovery Program.

A hero's escort is the least they could do.

"It's a chance to see that all veterans are taken care of as the United States promised they would be," said Bill Hamilton, Patriot Guard Riders.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders consider it their duty. They are bringing the remains of two Rochester-area veterans to their final resting place in Bath, World War II veteran Roswell Smith, and Vietnam veteran Gary Smith.

"It means a lot to us, that we're able to give something back, that he gave to so many people," said Lea Nicholls, veteran's sister.

"I believe he thought he was doing the right thing by going to Vietnam to begin with. I think he thought that was what was best," said Judy Zayas, veteran's sister.

The Veteran Recovery Program provides proper burials to those who served and died. Many of whom might have fallen on hard times, some who don't have family, or some who are estranged from their family.

"It's important we honor these gentlemen, no matter where they are or what situation they're in. They did fight for us, and this is America. This is what America's about," said Nicholls.

Bath represents the closest national cemetery to Rochester. Friday's funeral also included the remains of six veterans from the Buffalo area.

"It's impressive that people come out, and hold their hands over their heart, and salute, and just wave flags, and say thank you. That's all we need," noted Hamilton.

Gary Smith's family said coming home from Vietnam was never easy. He passed away in July. Roswell Smith died in the 1970s. His remains have been in a funeral home ever since.

The Veteran Recovery Program sets out to find similar stories. Though, it's hard to say how many remain out there.

"If we find that they do indeed have veterans in their custody, and we can make those arrangements, and restore their dignity, it's also a wonderful thing," explained Rickett.

Gary Smith's family is thankful.

"He deserved to have this, just like every veteran does," said Zayas.

A brotherhood of men on motorcycles plans to do just that.

"The informed public needs to know we do this. And, if they have a veteran in their family, they will be taken care of by someone," said Hamilton.

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