By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-At long last, two nearly forgotten veterans have received grave markers in the Seymour Lake Cemetery.
Earlier this year, Ortonville VFW 582 Commander Dennis Hoffman searched for information on two veterans Gary and David Bandy buried in the township cemetery. The veterans graves were marked with just a single broken board supported by a wire. The last names were omitted from the marker and etched in the 2-by-8 board is “Gary and David.”
“It had been that way since 2000,” said Hoffman. “We placed flags on the graves each Memorial Day—that’s the only way we knew they were veterans, otherwise they would have been forgotten.”
Hoffman investigated the veterans.
The two veterans are Gary L. Bandy, May 18, 1943-Nov. 23, 2000, served in the Marines from 1960-64. His brother is David R. Bandy, Jan. 10, 1945-Dec. 23, 1999. Like his brother he also served in the Marines 1962-1966.
“They both were in Cuba during the missile crises,” said Hoffman. “And the story is they met in Cuba at some point during their time. They both served and returned home with an honorable discharge—they died a year apart. Unless we do something to remember their service no one would know they are veterans.”
Hoffman contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death. However, until recently a family member was needed to make that application to the VA, added Hoffman.
“In the case of the Bandy’s, where there is no family to make the request, the veterans ended up with no grave stone,” he said.
Hoffman has made six attempts to get the markers for the Bandy brothers.
“It finally came through this summer,” he said.
So on Oct. 23, Holly based Genesee Valley Vault installed two markers on the Bandy brother graves.
The Bandy brothers are not alone, added Hoffman.
“They figure there’s 10,000 unmarked graves just in Michigan,” he said.
The Ortonville VFW places 80 flags for veterans at the Seymour Lake Cemetery on Memorial Day; 545 flags at the Ortonville Cemetery in Groveland Township and two flags in the Eaton Cemetery.