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A veteran gets his grave marker

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

An Army veteran who served during the Korean War, and who passed away more than two decades ago, now has a proper military marker as he rests forever in the Carrabelle cemetery.

The placement of the granite stone on the grave of Dewey O’Neal, who rose to the rank of corporal, and who passed away Nov. 12, 1997 at the age of 65, took place a week before Christmas, the culmination of a joint effort between his widow and her second husband, the county’s veteran service officer, and the commander of Camp Gordon Johnston American Legion Post 82.

“I think it was a great job,” said O’Neal’s widow, Velma Massey.

Massey’s husband, Tommy Jack, enlisted the help of the Post Commander Tim Ryan, and with the assistance of an appliance dolly, they carried the 139-pound granite marker to O’Neal’s grave at the cemetery.

“He had never gotten one,” said Ryan. “It’s an official thing from the military. Unless we have a marker of some sort, we don’t know they are former military. He didn’t have one; now he does.”

The story begins a while back, when Velma Massey reached out to Charles Elliott, the county’s veteran service office, who handles the securing of these markers among his many duties.

He said all those who served in the armed forces, including the Merchant Marines, are eligible for these headstones, with the exception of those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military. Members of the National Guard who saw no active duty do not qualify unless they died during a training incident or are eligible for full retirement.

The next of kin, typically a spouse, parent or sibling, must provide the required discharge document and death certificate. Elliott said in some cases it does not have to be a family member, but they must produce the necessary documentation.

Families can choose between an upright headstone, in granite or marble, a flat marker, in granite, marble or bronze; or a niche marker, in bronze. There is no charge.

The marker may include the dates of birth and death, the veteran’s periods of active military service, the highest rank they achieved, perhaps a medal they earned. “We put in what we can,” Elliott said.

Also included is a cross for those of the Christian faith, or any one of about 100 Emblem of Beliefs that indicate the sincerely held religious belief of the veteran.