ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — After an urn of a veteran was found in an Elkins apartment dumpster by two sanitary workers earlier this month, the race was on to identify the remains.
With no clues as to who the urn could belong to or who it had contained, Elkins sanitary workers reached out to Post 29 Elkins’ American Legion for assistance. Members of Elkins Post 29 then shared images of the urn and where it was found on social media and various news outlets for greater outreach.
Not even a full week after the legion had obtained the urn, Post 29’s Commander John Miller received a phone call claiming it and providing more information on how the urn was displaced.
“You know, we all believe in the man upstairs, and I think this is the way for him to get to where he wanted,” said Commander Miller.
Robert Deeth was the veteran identified within the urn. Deeth served in the Vietnam War as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force and received the Bronze Service Star, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Device and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Deeth’s son had made the phone call to Commander Miller and informed him that though he would like a small portion of his father’s ashes, Robert Deeth’s final wish was to be buried in Elkins’ Little Arlington Cemetery—which Elkins Post 29 had intended to do if Deeth had not been identified.
A year after his passing in 2018, Deeth’s wife had passed away as well. It was then that Deeth’s daughter inherited his ashes and after her passing the urn was displaced by workers of the apartment complex, though at no fault of their own.
12 News spoke with Mike Cardinal, past Commander and Adjutant of Elkins’ Post 29 American Legion on the urn’s displacement.
“Those workers that were cleaning out that apartment, they did not know what that urn is. When you say urn, we all think of the vase-type urn, but not everybody can afford that. A very simple box, little metal box that’s screwed shut is all that someone can afford and not knowing what it was. It could have been a time capsule or something simple, it was just, at the time, for them, garbage in the way. They did not know, so you can’t blame those people for it,” said Adjutant Cardinal.
Post 29 Elkins American Legion has already arranged a service and memorial for Deeth with the proper bronze plaques he would have originally been buried with.
A monument is also in the works for Deeth’s final resting point, as this story is one that members of Post 29 Elkins will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The two sanitary workers who found Deeth’s urn are planning to attend his burial as well.