Citizens honor fallen veteran
COLUMBIA - Dozens of rumbling motorcycles and other vehicles rolled down U.S. 63 as people from around mid-Missouri escorted a fallen veteran to his final resting place.
The Missouri Military Academy and Patriot Gaurd Riders honored Jeffrey Joseph Lopardo during a ceremony in Columbia, followed by a procession to a burial service at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetary in Jacksonville, Missouri.
The groups gathered because Lopardo, who passed away this past December, had no remaining family.
The senior ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders of Mid-Missouri, Reed Hickam, said the service was an opportunity to give a veteran the burial he deserved.
"It's really a great feeling because we're doing this to let all veterans know that they are not forgotten and that every one of them matters and every one of them will be remembered," Hickam said.
Ralph Thomas, of Green Hills American Legion Post 57, said those gathered wanted to make sure each veteran receives a final send off.
"For each person it's the same thing. You're honoring that veteran for his or her service and you do it right. We practice once a month on this so we get it down and we want to make them feel like they contributed to their country and that they have the final send off," Thomas said.
Lopardo, originally from Chicago, Illinois, served in the United States Air Force from 1967-1970. He was 67 when he died.