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Procession will bring remains of 38 veterans from Sonoma County to Dixon

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Morning people on Saturday might catch sight of an unusual motorcade that will escort the long-stored and perhaps forgotten remains of 38 U.S. military veterans from Rohnert Park to the national cemetery in Dixon.

Not long before 9 a.m., the veterans’ cremated remains will be placed in a custom, motorcycle- drawn hearse in the park-and-ride lot at Rohnert Park Expressway and Highway 101. The remains will also include those of two veterans’ spouses.

At 9, the hearse and a contingent of motorcycles and other escort vehicles will set out for Interstate 80 and the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.

The remains will be received there with an 11 a.m. ceremony with military honors. They will be buried and identified with grave markers reflecting their identities and their service to the country.

Heading up the mass delivery of remains to the national cemetery is Ron Collier. The former Windsor fire chief is dedicating much of his retirement to arranging proper burial for veterans whose remains have for any number of reasons been left on mortuary shelves, at state hospitals and elsewhere.

Collier, regional coordinator of the Missing In America Project, found the remains to be transported on Saturday at the Chapel of the Chimes in Santa Rosa.

“Some of them have been sitting on the shelf here for 65 years,” Collier said. He said some were for unknown reasons sent to the mortuary, formerly operated by the Neptune Society, from funeral homes hundreds of miles away.

The flag-draped urns to be transported contain remains from six World War I veterans, 24 World War II veterans, six Korea Conflict veterans, two Vietnam War veterans and two peacetime veterans. For them to be forgotten on a shelf didn’t sit well with Collier and others who honor their service.

“So we are getting them home,” Collier said. He believes that never before in Northern California has a funeral procession delivered so many veterans to their final resting place.

Across the country, he noted, it’s estimated that the remains of 70,000 veterans sit in storage.

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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