A decorated Army veteran who passed away with no family members is being honored in a big way.

When 70-year-old Robert Grala passed away, he surely didn’t think that anyone would be attending his funeral, let alone thinking the entire country would hear about it.

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(Photo courtesy flagfoldingfoundation.org.)


But as the military says, ‘no man left behind.’

That’s why this combat veteran is being laid to rest and the invitation for attendance is open to literally any and everyone.

The initial offering came to light after the Gloucester Board of Freeholders decided it was the perfect way to lay their brother to rest.

“Although Mr. Grala has no known family, he was part of the military family,” said Freeholder Director Robert Damminger.


“His time on earth and in the service mattered.”

Grala earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal for his service in the Army. The Williamstown resident served 2 years in South Korea and had been given multiple honors for his role in the war.

“The Gloucester County Veterans Cemetery is a place of dignity and respect, exactly the place Mr. Grala and all of the veterans of our community deserve to be interred,” said Dan Christy, liaison to the county’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We are honored to spread the word so that he is laid to rest surrounded by fellow veterans and neighbors.”



This isn’t the first time a funeral service was opened to the public. NJ.com reported that, ‘in January, more than 1,000 strangers attended the funeral of Peter Turnpu, a Vietnam veteran from Waterford who had no known family or friends. Turnpu, who was an Estonian immigrant and served in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1966, died alone from natural causes.’

“Whenever we put out a statement to say we’re setting flags for Memorial Day and ask for help to honor the veterans, we have hundreds of people showing up,” an internment officer said.

“I think the public really understands what veterans do, and they show support. Even if you haven’t served, you feel that duty to honor a person.”

The service is set for Monday, April 22ndat the Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Those looking for more information can find it here.