More than 1,500 people showed up at an Omaha, Neb. cemetery on Tuesday to pay their respects to a Vietnam War veteran they never met.
Stanley Stoltz, who passed away November 18 at 73, was laid to rest at the Omaha National Cemetery surrounded by well-wishers who learned of the funeral from an ad in the Omaha World Herald posted by the funeral home that coordinated the service.
“The Public is invited to the Cemetery to honor a Vietnam Veteran with no known family. Interment will be in Omaha National Cemetery on Tuesday, November 27, at 2 p.m.,” the message read.
While the ad indicated Stoltz had “no known family,” the funeral home subsequently tracked down his brother, who also attended the funeral.
“It’s just been a tremendous outpouring of support for this man and even non-veteran-affiliated groups,” Good Shepherd Funeral Home director Michael Hoy told CNN affiliate KEVT. Hoyt was first asked to provide the funeral services by the nursing home where Stoltz spent his final years.
Stoltz served as a private in the Army during the Vietnam War. Much of the crowd was comprised of veterans who saw the ad and felt compelled to respond.
“No vet deserves to die alone. Thank God,” Dick Harrington, an attendee, told a local CNN affiliate. “We looked around and said, ‘Here’s his family.’ It’s true. Veterans. We’re all family. That’s just the way we roll.”
The crowd was so large that traffic backed up along the highway leading to the cemetery, causing the service to be delayed.
“Sorry for the delay. We weren’t expecting this outpouring of love and affection for one of our veterans,” a cemetery employee said during the service.
The Omaha Police Department thanked the community for the show of support in a Facebook post.
“We are humbled to see our community respond. We say it often, but this is an example of the community we speak so highly of. Thank you for supporting Stanley, our military and all of our first responders,” the post read.