Veteran laid to rest after four years

A South Carolina veteran was finally buried after he died four years ago.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- A South Carolina veteran was finally buried after he died four years ago.

Hundreds of American Legion Riders and military members paid their respects to Private Donald Tatro at Ft. Jackson National Cemetery Thursday. The service began with a procession in Gaffney before reaching Columbia.

"We have members of the Patriot Guard Riders that came from the Gaffney area," Steven Goulet with the Chapin American Legion said. "We had members of the Patriot Guard Combat, Veterans Motorcycle Association, Buffalo Soldiers coming out to show support for this ceremony."

Goulet said Private Tatro served between 1948-1952 as an Infantryman in the Army, who had an honorable discharge.

However, the ceremony did not include Tatro's family members. Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said he could not find any family members. He held on to Tatro's remains after the man died in 2008 from natural causes, and wanted to give him a proper burial.

"There was no next of kin," Fowler said. "So I began to do research obviously trying to locate next of kin. I could not find any. I tracked back that he was military from documents I found in his apartment."

Private Tatro may not have been buried if not for the "Missing in America" project, where veteran service organizations actively search for unclaimed remains of servicemen and women.

In May 2012, Gov. Nikki Haley signed a law giving other veterans a chance to claim those bodies so they can have a military burial. Thursday's service was the second in the Palmetto State involving a soldier with no family members.

Fowler received the American flag at Tatro's service. He said he hopes other servicemen and women will be found and honored the same way.

"It is very significant that we reach out and try to find those folks," Fowler said. "The 'Missing in America' is one of the best laws in South Carolina that has been enacted."

An act this military family hopes will keep honoring America's bravest.