On Tuesday, hundreds of people braved chilly temperatures in Omaha, Nebraska, to pay their respects to Vietnam veteran Stanley Stoltz, who passed away November 18.
Most of them had never met Stoltz. But they had seen his funeral notice in the Omaha World Herald, which was posted by the Good Shepherd Funeral Home.
It said the 73-year-old war hero was believed to have no known living family members, and invited the public to his burial.
“The Public is invited to the Cemetery to honor a Vietnam Veteran with no known family. Interment will be in Omaha National Cemetery on Tuesday, November 27, at 2 p.m.,” the message read.
An estimated 1,500 people showed up to the Omaha National Cemetery to honor a man they hadn’t known in life, CNN affiliate WOWT reported.
“No vet deserves to die alone. Thank God,” Dick Harrington, an attendee, told the affiliate. “We looked around and said, ‘Here’s his family.’ It’s true. Veterans. We’re all family. That’s just the way we roll.”
Stoltz served as a private first class in the US Army in Vietnam, and kept to himself most of his life, cemetery director Cindy M. Van Bibber told CNN.
Though the obituary said he did not have any known family, his brother, who requested not to be identified, actually showed up during the ceremony, Bibber said.
“It’s just been a tremendous outpouring of support for this man and even non-veteran-affiliated groups,” Good Shepherd Funeral Home director Michael Hoy told CNN affiliate KEVT, who said Stoltz had lived his last years at a local nursing home.
When Hoy received a call from the nursing home asking to provide Stoltz with a proper burial, he told the affiliate that it immediately became the funeral home’s mission.
CNN has reached out to the funeral home and the nursing home for further comment, and is waiting to hear back.
Scott Gray, Omaha Police Department deputy chief, took to social media to share how amazed he was at the turnout.
“Incredible mix of people standing in the cold to honor a veteran. As someone in the crowd said, ‘get closer…we’re all family today!’” he tweeted.
The Omaha Police Department also thanked those who attended the funeral.
“We are humbled to see our community respond. We say it often, but this is an example of the community we speak so highly of. Thank you for supporting Stanley, our military and all of our first responders,” the Facebook post read.