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VA steps in to help send off Vietnam veteran with no next of kin present

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard and others made sure the Vietnam War veteran was laid to rest with full honors.

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard during 21-gun salute for the funeral of David C. Isom at Fargo National Cemetery on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.jpg
The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard during 21-gun salute for the funeral of David C. Isom at Fargo National Cemetery on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
C.S. Hagen/The Forum
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FARGO — The funeral service for U.S. Marine Corps rifleman David C. Isom on Wednesday, Sept. 21 was solemn and short.

With no next of kin present, the Fargo Memorial Honor Guard and others made sure the Vietnam War veteran was laid to rest with full honors.

Gary Himmerich, a chaplain, read from Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the darkest evil, I will not fear…” Himmerich read aloud.

“Now he is free from all his cares. Give him peace forever and ever,” Himmerich said.

A chilled autumn wind blew across the Fargo National Cemetery as a trumpeter played Taps. Few people knew anything about Isom, other than he lived in Fargo and recently passed away at the Fargo VA Medical Center.

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Rifles at parade rest after the funeral service for David C. Isom at Fargo National Cemetery on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.jpg
Rifles at parade rest after the funeral service for David C. Isom at the Fargo National Cemetery on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
C.S. Hagen/The Forum

“He is one of the veterans who had no next of kin and the Veterans Administration was like his only family,” said Diana Bjerke, a program manager with the Community Resource and Reference Center in the Fargo VA Health Care System.

Isom, 69, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1973 in Michigan, and served two tours in Vietnam. Later, he was in the Marine Corps Reserves and served until 1980 when he was honorably discharged, according to military paperwork.

He was a rifleman, and recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge, according to military paperwork.

Some veterans have lost touch with family; some outlive their own families, Bjerke said.

“He is not the first one who passed away and didn’t have family, but we take pride in being there to send him off,” Bjerke said.

092222.N.FF.Veteran
The body of David C. Isom, who served in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and died at the Fargo VA Medical Center, is carried to his funeral Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at the Fargo National Cemetery.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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