East Tennessee strangers show up to funeral for Kathryn Ann Bey, an unclaimed veteran

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – “She was a lady who unfortunately had no immediate family who could claim her,” said President of the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard, Captain Reid Gerhardt. 

Kathryn Ann Bey joined the United States Army in 1974 and served as a medical assistant for three years in Germany before she was honorably discharged. Though Bey was born in Euclid, Ohio, Bey made Newport, Tenn. her home for years before passing away on Aug. 28, with no one to claim her remains. 

“Every veteran deserves his or her military honors and just because somebody doesn’t have a family doesn’t mean that they’re not going to get them or that they don’t deserve them,” Gerhardt said. “And as you saw here today we had a very good turnout of people – very few of whom knew her or anything about her except that she was an honorable veteran.”

Those complete strangers were the ones to not only show up and honor her service but claim her in the end with a resounding, “I agree.”

“It’s always sad in one way, on the other hand, I think it’s heartening that so many strangers will show up for a brother or sister in arms,” said Gerhardt, referencing the veterans and non-veterans alike who joined together to give Bey a proper military send-off. 

“It tears your heart out to know that somebody served and then you lose them,” said fellow veteran Donna Mathes who spent several years in the United States Air Force. 

“I’m just highly impressed with the people that come out just to show their respect that probably might not even know them.”

Kathryn Bey’s ceremonial flag was folded and presented to Jeff Berry with Berry funeral home. The flag will eventually be sent to Bey’s great-aunt in Ohio, who was not able to travel to Tuesday’s ceremony due to medical reasons. 

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