Homeless veteran to receive military burial Area groups honor a man whose life remains a mystery
The Journal Gazette
Rosa Salter Rodriguez
March 30, 2016
A U.S. Army veteran who died homeless in Fort Wayne earlier this month will be given a military funeral today with the aid of several area veterans’ groups.
John Pawlowski, 69, died March 5 at Parkview Hospital of natural causes stemming from septic shock, according to Michael Burris, chief investigator for the Allen County coroner’s office. Septic shock is a full-body infection that causes organ shutdown.
Pawlowski’s birthdate, May 17, 1947, and his military service were verified through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Burris said. But much of his life remains a mystery, and no family members willing to step forward to claim the body could be found, he said.
Nonetheless, contacts made through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program by staff members at Fort Wayne’s Klaehn, Fahl and Melton funeral home have yielded a chaplain to conduct the services, as well as members of about a half-dozen area veterans groups who make a practice of participating in military funerals.
They include the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders and American Freedom Riders motorcycle groups; members of American Legion Post 241 in Waynedale; a group of Army members in active service; and representatives of Fort Wayne’s Safe Haven home for veterans struggling with addiction.
David Wilson, Safe Haven’s regional program director, said the agency will receive the American flag typically given to members of a veteran’s family – even though Safe Haven never had contact with Pawlowski.
“To me, it’s tragic when you have someone who served his country and dies and has nothing and no one. It’s tragic, but it happens,” Wilson said, adding that it has happened two or three times in the Fort Wayne area in the past two years.
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