Burial held for unclaimed soldier's remains

Soldier's remains in box for burial

The unclaimed remains of Staff Sergeant John Earl Rieser were buried at the Florence National Cemetery, Tuesday morning. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969-1981.

Rieser was cremated after Horry County Coroner Robert Edge couldn't find anyone in Rieser's family. His remains were unclaimed in a storage area at the Coroner's Office since his death.

Rieser was 63 years old when he died in Conway in October of 2009.

A crowd of about 50 people gathered for the burial services.

"When Mr. Rieser passed away , he was at the Conway Hospital and I was notified, but there was no family present in Horry County. After going out and talking with some friends where he worked at, they enlightened me that he was an only child in Florida and that his parents were both deceased," said Robert Edge, Horry County Coroner.

After learning Rieser served in the Army, Edge contacted members of the American Legion Riders Post 186 out of Little River.

They informed him about a new state law passed in May that allows unclaimed cremated remains of veterans to be turned over to Veterans Administration or veterans groups for proper burial.

The law says the remains may be interred without liability to the funeral home, funeral establishment, mortuary, or any manager thereof or a veterans' service organization involved in the interment.

Rieser's service is the first of its kind following the passing of the new law.

"It's his day. A day that he deserved and it's the honor and respect for him," said Larry Truax, American Legion Riders.

"It meant a lot for us to be able to bring him here today with a proper burial and lay him at rest and at peace," said Michael McIntire, American Legion Riders.

Rieser's burial ceremony included a patriotic song and prayer.

The Veterans Honor Guard gave a three-volley salute and there was the playing of Taps in Rieser's honor.

A temporary marker is set up at Rieser's graveside until a permanent headstone is placed there in the coming weeks.