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Fundraiser to install headstones for unmarked graves of veterans

Richmond County Daily Journal - 7/15/2020

Jul. 14--Brandon Tester -- Daily Journal, File

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony in May. Dean spearheaded the planning of Operation Tombstone, a fundraiser this weekend that will help cover the cost of putting marking graves of five deceased veterans in Richmond Memorial Park Cemetery.

ROCKINGHAM -- Five deceased combat veterans are buried in unmarked graves at Richmond County Memorial Park Cemetery.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean found that fact to be "disturbing" -- even more so because one of those veterans had been deceased for eight years, and the grave markers for all five veterans are already in storage. The only thing missing is the installation fees for those markers.

So Dean organized Operation Tombstone, a fundraiser that will help cover the costs of installing those markers. In conjunction with VFW Rockingham and VFW Auxiliary, several local motorcycle groups for veterans -- Combat Vets MC, Ol' Skool Tribe, Playaz Elite and Steel Wheel MCs -- will participate in the fundraiser at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the VFW building located at 106 Old River Rd. in Rockingham. The event will include a group motorcycle ride from the Rockingham VFW building to Richmond Memorial Park, where a ceremony will take place for the five fallen veterans. The group will then return to the VFW building for a grill-out.

Organizers are requesting donations in lieu of a participation fee. The group of motorcycle riders, which could be as many as 50 riders deep, will depart for the Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m. The riders will arrive at the park at around 11:15 a.m., and they'll hold a short ceremony that'll include the playing of "Taps."

Anyone who isn't participating in the motorcycle ride can still meet the group at the park and watch the ceremony. Those who want to be a part of the ride can contact Dean at 910-206-1158.

Dean said the goal is to raise $1,201 for the grave markers. That will cover the $225-per-marker price tag.

"Give what you want," Dean said. "Whether you ride single or double, just give what you want."

Donors paying with a check should make their checks out to Rockingham VFW Auxiliary.

"We're looking very forward to it," Dean said. "We're excited about it. Everybody talks about it, and it makes us all feel good about what we're going to do."

Reach Brandon Tester at [email protected] or 910-817-2671. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester


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