ROSS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — For months, their remains lay unclaimed in a morgue — five men who served in the military without families to claim them. Thursday, they were buried with honors.

At the end of their lives, they had no families to keep their stories alive, at least none that came forward. Their cremains were left in boxes unclaimed, one for more than a year.

“The cremains come back to the ME and we are considered to be their next of kin,” said Michelle Fox with the Office of the Medical Examiner at Sparrow Hospital.

The ME’s office reached out to family, friends and other contacts but nobody returned those calls.

So, the day before Veterans Day, the ME’s Office buried them at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, with full military honors — folded flags, taps, a color guard, a rifle detail.

“We scheduled it for today to honor them just a little bit more,” Fox said.

Two separate ceremonies, one for four Navy veterans: 65-year-old Seaman Apprentice Walter Lee Warden, 72-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Arthur Thomas, 61-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Alan Hurst and 84-year-old Seaman Mervin William Timon.

There was a separate service held for 74-year-old Army Spc. 5 Larry Duane Heins.

The flags, usually presented to a grieving relative, were stacked in the lap of the ME’s office chief investigator.

“It is an honor as the Medical Examiner’s Office to continue serving those who have served. They gave their time, their energy, almost their lives when they were overseas, to give us the freedoms that they have. This is something amazing that we’re able to give back to them and give them a dignified burial,” said Fox.