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Unclaimed veteran remains receive proper burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery

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DENVER — The sound of a trumpet carried through the air on a windy Thursday afternoon at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

On April 14, the unclaimed remains of seven veterans received a proper burial at the cemetery, where there are more than 148,000 graves. The veterans’ remains were retrieved from Aspen Mortuaries in Lakewood and taken to their final resting place at Fort Logan.

“We feel it’s our duty to keep them safe until, maybe, a family member is comfortable in claiming their loved one,” said Kim Merr, founder of Aspen Mortuaries.

Often, those claims never happen. An investigation from The Washington Post published in November of last year found that there are thousands of such cases every year among veterans, many of whom served in Vietnam. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 500 Vietnam veterans die every day.

According to the VA, more than 1,700 unclaimed veterans were buried in the 150 veterans’ cemeteries run by the federal government in 2020.

“They’re our brothers. We don’t know much about them; all we know is that they served honorably, and it’s our responsibility as brothers in the military to honor them with a final resting place,” said Jim Topkoff of the unclaimed remains at Fort Logan.

Unclaimed Veteran Burial

Topkoff is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1071, which is based in Denver.

Topkoff said there are “thousands upon thousands” of unclaimed remains around the country. The remains buried at Fort Logan Thursday, according to Topkoff, are those of “honorably discharged veterans who served from back to WWII, through Korea, through Vietnam and even the most current wars.”

And while little is known about the circumstances surrounding their deaths, Topkoff said “it’s very important to us to make sure that they are given the burial they deserve.”

These are the names of the seven men whose unclaimed remains were buried at Fort Logan:

  • Jerry Burton Blodgett, U.S. Navy
  • Allen Stephan Bralley, U.S. Army
  • William Dobraninch, U.S. Marines
  • Charles Franklin Lowell, U.S. Army
  • John Larry Schulte, U.S. Army
  • Harvey Thomas Taylor, U.S. Army
  • Anthony Troutner, U.S. Army


Brian Willie is the Content Production Manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can contact him at

Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

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