ODESSA, TX (KWES) - A Vietnam veteran who passed away last week in Odessa will be laid to rest. But hospital employees weren't able to locate his family members.
The veteran spent several weeks at a local hospital after staying at an emergency shelter. There were no home records or even pictures of him, only an original birth certificate and military discharge papers he carried.
"This man joined the military to protect this country, to protect our freedom and our rights, just like we all did, every veteran every did," said Vietnam veteran Bill McNeill who is attending the veteran's funeral services. "Vietnam vets, they're the only family that we've had. We took care of each other. Every person that served in Vietnam is family."
A hospice worker reached out to LeAnne Thornton with the Midland Vet Center to begin work on funeral arrangements.
"We want the public to know that there are a lot of vets that don't have anyone," said Thornton. "When they pass away, they're alone. They have no one."
The Texas General Land Office said the man was identified as Charles Sorrell, 71, a Vietnam vet who served in the Army for nine years as an intelligence analyst and achieved the rank of Specialist 5.
"Mr. Sorrell did three tours in Vietnam," said Thornton. "There's no reason he should not be honored as the hero that he is."
Sorrell was awarded several awards including the National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
"We got treated like crap when we came home. We were treated bad for years," said McNeill. "This man is part of us and we're going to give him the honor that he deserves as a Vietnam veteran. We're going to give him a good send-off and let him go home to the Lord proud that he was a Vietnam vet. I want to tell him, 'Welcome home.'"
The Hubbard-Kelly Funeral Home in Odessa told us they're providing the funeral services for Sorrell free of charge.
The Midland Vet Center encourages other veterans and the public to go to Sorrell's services. The Patriot Guard of Midland will escort Sorrell from Odessa to Abilene. Here are the dates to Sorrell's services:
Monday January 9 from 6-9 p.m.:
Visitation Memorial Service Burial Services at the Hubbard-Kelly Funeral Home on 601 N Alleghaney in Odessa.
Tuesday January 10 at 10 a.m.:
Memorial service at the Hubbard-Kelly Funeral Home on 601 N Alleghaney in Odessa.
Tuesday January 10 at 2 p.m.:
Burial service at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery 7457 W. Lake Road in Abilene.