Midlands Community Bids Farewell to Homeless Veteran, Two Other Unclaimed Servicemen
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)- In January, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office confirmed the body of a veteran and former Richland County deputy was found in a makeshift shelter in the woods. Friday, dozens came out to honor that former deputy and two other unclaimed veterans in memorial.
Diane Peryslak is former deputy Dennis Reidy’s first cousin. She says she flew down to South Carolina after reading about her cousin’s death.
“He didn’t have anybody with him. I had been looking for him. I do the family genealogy and Dennis was a missing link for us. I had been trying for several years now to find him, contact him, I sent him letters, I called the sheriff’s department where I knew he worked I’d just been searching for him to do the DNA because I thought he could help us more,” Peryslak said.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he wishes the veterans knew how much military and law enforcement family they had around the midlands. Sentiments echoed by Reidy’s former coworker Fred Riddle.
“If we had just known more, we could have done more for him. He’s sheriff’s department family, vet family, we could have all done a lot for him. We just didn’t know,” said Riddle.
Though Reidy and the other veterans, Private Glenn Duncan and Airman Raymond Gerard died alone, The Midlands community made sure they were surrounded by love with a grand goodbye.
“Be proud of them. Be extremely proud of what they did and sure they passed away without a lot of people around them but I guarantee they know that they are loved now,” Lieutenant Danny Brown of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Despite not seeing him for years, Peryslak said she is proud of her cousin and he would have loved seeing all these people celebrate his life.
“His soul is up in heaven and I think he is stunned, just stunned,” Peryslak said.