Strangers plan memorial ride, funeral services for WWII vet without family

A kind-hearted Kannapolis man is bringing strangers together, all to honor a World War II veteran who passed away with no family to lay him to rest.  

When Anthony Brown heard that nobody was claiming the body of 93-year-old Houston Howell Jr., he decided to get results for a man who gave so much to his country. 

“I ran his name through the Avis system, the national database and nothing came back,” said Anthony Brown with Brown Kannapolis Mortuary. 

MORE MILITARY STORIES FROM FOX 46

Howell’s wife and son both passed away years ago and he had nobody else. He was homeless for some time, then spent the last three months of his life at the VA Hospital in Salisbury.

Brown Mortuary says the VA called him when Howell died saying he had no family and needed a proper burial. 

“I think everyone who serves this country deserves a dignified service, a decent burial, a respectful burial. From his history and what Mr. Houston has done for this country as a WWII Veteran, a Purple Heart recipient,” Brown said.

When Anthony Brown heard that nobody was claiming the body of 93-year-old Houston Howell Jr., he decided to get results for a man who gave so much to his country. 

Born on the 4th of July, the honored veteran died on December 7, 2019, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. The VA did not have any photos of Howell. 

“I do believe he was homeless before that. It's an honor to take someone in like that. He was more than a warrior, he was a human being and he deserves the best.” 

After hearing his story, Brown claimed Howell’s body and went to work setting up a memorial event with Patriot Guard Riders, an organization that brings together all those who want to honor fallen American heroes by attending their funeral service.

Howell will be laid to rest on Friday, Jan. 10. The Patriot Guard Riders and Ride for Pride truck will escort the remains up Highway 29 from the Brown Kannapolis Mortuary to the National Cemetery in Salisbury for a service and burial with military honors. 

GET THE FOX 46 NEWS APP

Howell served in both the Army and the Navy, and earned Purple Heart while fighting for our nation. He served in the Pacific Ocean theater of operations during WWII. 

If you would like to attend the services for Howell, click here for more information.