METHUEN, Mass. — A local funeral home director wanted to make sure a Korean war veteran with no family was given a respectful send-off.
Eileen Robichaud died earlier in September and doesn't have any relatives in New England.
"I feel very sad when people pass away and there’s no one there for them," said Aaron Mitzen, the Director for the Kenneth H. Pollard Funeral Home.
Mitzen asked the community to show up for Robichaud's service, and the turnout was more than he could've expected.
Robichaud died at the age of 84 at the Brockton VA Hospital. An only child, she served in the Korean war right after high school.
While she was a longtime resident of Methuen, Robichaud only has distant cousins who live on the other side of the country and otherwise will not have anyone to attend her funeral.
"She was a pioneer in her own right," says Mitzen. "She enlisted in the Navy at a time when there were very few women in the military."
While two of her cousins flew in for the funeral, hundreds of people showed up to support Robichaud and her legacy.
This isn't the first time Mitzen has shown an act of kindness towards a deceased veteran. In March, Mitzen asked Methuen residents to attend the funeral for a 95-year-old veteran who died without any surviving family.
For that service, he was able to gather 150 people, including many local veterans, to come out and pay their respects to Albert Corn.
"We want to make sure that their history and their sacrifice is not forgotten," said Cathy Connelly, of the Purple Heart Veterans.
"I think the old adage is veterans stick together," said one veteran. "Nobody goes alone."
Having served two decades in the Marine Corps., Mitzen says that's how he feels, saying he has a special connection to all veterans, especially those who didn't have families.
"This has become kind of like my little personal mission that no one should be buried alone," said Mitzen. "No one should die alone."
Strangers came from near and far to honor Robichaud.
"I thought it was truly amazing and we’re blessed to have such a country, a community to come out and honor her," said Karen Courtemanche, of Methuen.
"I was blown away, I was just speechless to tell you the truth," said Maureen Rodarte, Robichaud's cousin. "People just kept coming and coming, it just says a lot about your community."
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