HANAPEPE — A light rain — a natural blessing — started to fall as the first notes of “Taps” pierced the warm Tuesday morning at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.
The light rain fell harder as Norvin Olivas, commander of the Kauai Veterans Club, adjourned the formal portion of final services for veteran William Walker, triggering a final outpouring of tribute of flowers and handfuls of sand before the urn containing Walker’s remains was interred.
“William Walker served honorably in the U.S. Coast Guard from Feb. 28, 1961 until Feb. 26, 1965,” said Olivas. “Following his service with the USCG, Mr. Walker eventually became the owner of the American Seating Supply Co. in Seattle, Washington before retiring due to illness. He lived in Hawaii for 15 years.”
During this time, “Bill” was known around the neighborhood for riding his red mobility scooter with his orange flag to the shopping center.
“He always wore his hat and aloha shirt,” Olivas said. “He liked computers and electronics, and was very proud of researching and finding a naturalistic regimen that cured himself of needing dialysis. He believed this to be one of his biggest accomplishments.”
People honoring Walker included his neighbors from the Eleele housing project, representatives from the USCG Station Kauai, veterans, and people who happened to be visiting graves at the time the service was conducted, everyone adjusting their visit to accommodate Walker’s departure.
According to information from the state’s Department of Defense, Walker’s two sons, one of whom is diagnosed with cancer, are not able to pay the mortuary, nor travel to Kauai for burial services resulting in Walker’s remains becoming the property of the state, or unclaimed.
“No veteran should be unclaimed,” said Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, commandant of the Kauai Veterans Council. “We are claiming him. Unfortunately, I will be off-island at a conference, but we will have a few veterans there to say ‘goodbye.’ Mr. Walker was a Coastie so I’ve asked Justin Shakleford from our USCG Station Kauai to consider sending a few reps as well.”
Jim Jung, Kauai Veterans Council chaplain, is also a veteran of the Coast Guard.
“I joined the Coast Guard in January, 1952, and completed by eight-year service in December, 1960,” Jung said. “Mr. Walker served in the Coast Guard from January 1961 and completed his service in February 1965. I consider him my shipmate because we wore the same uniform and shared the same core values — honor, respect, and devotion to duty. We did not know him, but we gather here today to bid him farewell as comrades in arms, and to thank him for his service to our country. Fair winds and following seas, sailor as you make your voyage to the other shore.”