CARMEL – Donald Norton may have died a lonely man, but the 85-year-old Korean War veteran received quite a sendoff Wednesday when 50 people gathered outside the Cargain Funeral Home in Carmel. The former Mahopac resident’s flag draped casket was carried in a hearse to its final resting place at the Solomon National Cemetery in Saratoga Springs.
Norton passed away in late June with no family or friends stepping up to claim his body.
The Putnam Veterans’ Service Agency collaborated with funeral director Mike Muenz by organizing a brief service to remember the retired Air Force veteran.
County Veterans Affairs Director Karl Rohde told those who came to pay their respects that “No veteran should ever be forgotten. Sadly, Mr. Norton had no relatives who could be located. In Putnam County, no veteran will ever be allowed to pass on without recognizing his or her service.”
John Bourges, coordinator of the Dwyer Vet2Vet program, agreed with Rohde. “We have done this before when Karl and I were the only two to say ‘goodbye’ to a veteran,” Bourges said. “No one should ever be forgotten. This serves as an example how Putnam County always remembers its veterans.”
County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Legislators Amy Sayegh and Carl Albano also attended the service along with Commissioner of Emergency Services Ken Clair, Deputy Commissioner Robert Lipton, Office for Senior Resources Director Mike Cunningham and a dozen other county employees who stood on the steps of the Putnam County Courthouse as the processional drove past led by members of the Sheriff’s Department.
World War II and Korean War veterans Joseph Castellano and George D’Alessandro were also on hand.
Castellano saluted the hearse saying, “Always a vet,” while D’Alessandro remarked “We are proud to give Mr. Norton the proper send off.”