It took several days, but Lake Wales, FL, Acting Customer Services Supervisor Yolanda Colon-Colon didn’t give up until she was able to help honor a deceased World War II serviceman.
After cremated remains were dropped off in a canvas tote outside the Lake Wales Veterans of Foreign Wars office, the local commander brought the bag to the Post Office. Information in the bag contained the name of Willard Holbert, who was 87 when he died in 2010. Holbert’s sister had kept his remains, but she died in 2013.
Colon-Colon contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and learned there is a process to handle unclaimed remains, and she received instructions where to mail them. The VA classified Holbert as a “homeless soldier” given the circumstances of how his remains were found.
“On behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, I was very happy to help a homeless soldier receive the recognition he deserved and a proper burial,” said Colon-Colon.
Holbert is now buried at the South Florida National Cemetery. He was a 20-year-old sergeant when he served in WWII. He received numerous medals, according to VA records, including two Bronze Service Stars, a Philippine Liberation Medal and others.