TAMPA, Fla. — An unclaimed World War II and Korean War veteran is being honored in a very special way. A group of Tampa Bay veterans is making sure that Col. Wallace Taylor will get his last wish, to be buried in Kentucky next to his mother.
"He was a little bit ruff around the edges. He was a big fan of John Wayne and that tough-guy image," said Robert Lynch who works at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital where Taylor was a patient.
But Taylor outlived all of his family and when he passed away at the age of 96 a few weeks ago, there was no one to claim his body. The tough guy's last wish was to be buried with the cremated remains of his three dogs along with the blanket his mom made him and to be buried in Kentucky next to her.
"We are vets helping vets and this is our last opportunity to help this vet," said David Allen with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
CVMA has made it their mission to adopt unclaimed veterans and give them a proper military burial.
"They’re our brothers and sisters," said Allen.
On Friday Taylor's life was honored with a ceremony outside the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.
"I could see him looking down right now and saying 'Robert, it's about dang time the VA did something right,'" said Lynch.
Now dozens of riders are giving Taylor a military procession all the way to Kentucky where other veterans and law enforcement will join along with them on the multi-day journey.
"It's not really a sad day, he was 96 years old. So for us, it's a rolling celebration of life," said Allen.
The group even made a coin in Taylor's honor to commemorate the 1000 mile journey of veterans coming together to make sure one of their own gets the honor he deserves.
Taylor's funeral will be held in Louisville on Sunday.
For more information and to help support Col. Taylor's Final Mile funeral escort you can visit the GoFundMe here.