A group of volunteers recently escorted the remains of WWII and Korean War Veteran Colonel Wallace Taylor on his final journey to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, as part of a Final Mile ceremony.
The trip took three days and nearly 2,000 miles. It fulfilled Taylor’s wish to be put to rest in a burial site beside his mother.
Served in WWII and the Korean War
The trip was part of Haley’s Final Mile program, a partnership between the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association that ensures no Veteran makes the trip to their final resting place alone.
CVMA volunteers escort Veterans whose remains are unclaimed as they are transported to cemeteries for internment. This was the first multi-day, multi-state escort since the program’s start in 2019.
Awarded Kentucky Colonel title for his service
Taylor is an Army Veteran who served in World War II and again during the Korean War as a noncommissioned officer. He was named a Kentucky Colonel, the state’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his service. When he passed away at the age of 96, he had outlived all his relatives. Fortunately, he had become close friends with Robert and Brenda Lynch, both VA employees.
Robert and Brenda were at his side when the colonel passed away and knew of his wishes to be buried alongside his mother.
Lynch met Taylor seven years before when the colonel stopped by his office with some recommendations for the hospital. He was chief of Patient Advocates at the time and soon had Taylor coming by his office to talk every time he visited the hospital.
They learned that he had owned a restaurant in Miami and at one point had toured the country as the owner of a carnival concession stand.
“He would always stop by to say hi and tell me about some of his experiences,” Robert said. “After spending time with him over the next few months, it became clear that he was alone and needed some company and help around his house.”
Friends “adopted” him and visited weekly
Robert and Brenda started visiting Taylor’s home every weekend, helping with things like lawn care and cleaning. They eventually “adopted” him, bringing Taylor to their own home for cookouts and holidays and other special occasions.
Friends bought Taylor to their home for cookouts, holidays and birthdays.
When it became clear he was nearing the end of his life, the colonel asked Robert and Brenda to make sure his dog was taken care of. They have adopted the dog. They also made sure they knew he wanted to buried in his hometown next to his mother.
Robert contacted David Allen, a hospital bio-med technician and treasurer of CVMA Chapter 20-20, and the trip was arranged.
“CVMA stepped up to coordinate the longest Final Mile to date, a 2,000-mile round trip, along with the assistance of Jennings Funeral Home in Sarasota, Fla.,” Brenda said.
Everyone on the journey volunteered services
The funeral home provided the use of their non-motorized, towable hybrid hearse. It’s part coach, part caisson, for the trip. Everyone who made the journey volunteered their time and services.
Other groups joined the escort as they made their way to Kentucky.
“I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this event to honor Colonel Taylor,” Lynch said. “Colonel, my friend, rest in peace.”