Daniel Swartz’s remains waited in a Pasco funeral home for a family that wasn’t coming.
His estranged children live in Texas and Colorado, said Candice Hermanson, Franklin County’s chief deputy coroner.
They weren’t able to travel across the country to properly bury him, so his body remained with the coroner’s office, under the care of the funeral home.
The former Marine private received his chance to get a proper burial in October thanks to the Missing in America Project, a nonprofit dedicated to locating, identifying and burying the remains of unclaimed veterans.
In his final days, Swartz, 59, was chronically ill, which kept him homebound, Hermanson said. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Lourdes Medical Center teamed up to move him into the Sacajawea Apartments.
Then on April 26, 2016, he died from an infection, Hermanson said. An apartment manager checked in on him and discovered his body.
At the time, his military identification was tucked into his wallet.
When his children chose to not claim his body, the county took over, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said. The funeral home holds onto them for about two years.
This is where John Hundahl, with the Missing in America Project, entered the picture.
Hundahl contacted the funeral home and the coroner’s office to learn if they had unclaimed remains of veterans, and discovered Swartz.
The private was one of 44 taken by veterans’ motorcycle groups to the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake to receive military honors and a burial.
“We are glad to be able to honor one of our local veterans this way and thank Mr. Hundahl for volunteering his time on this effort,” Blasdel said.