The day Serina Vine, a homeless World War II veteran, was to be laid to rest only four people were expected to attend. 200 showed up.
Vine had no known living relatives at the time of her death, but what she did have was a family of military veterans she never met who banded together to give her the burial she deserved.
When Army Maj. Jaspen Booth first heard the story she said, “That didn’t sit right with me.” Once homeless herself, Vine’s story hit close to home, so Booth put out a plea on social media, reaching out to several groups including Ms. Veteran America to spread the word.
When Booth showed up to Serina Vine’s funeral she was shocked at what her efforts delivered. “I thought they had three or four things going on,” she said when she saw the size of the crowd.
Martin Fuller of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had the same thoughts when he too arrived that day. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Fuller. “I felt like I had to go because I didn’t think anyone was going to show up. The information just went viral.”
Fuller first met Vine in the VA Community Living Center. Little was known about her due to her missing discharge and service papers, but Booth is adamant that people knew Vine as much more than a homeless veteran.
She was an educated woman who, according to her obituary, was born in Berkeley, Cali., and graduated from the University of California. She served in the Navy‘s radio intelligence unit from 1944-1946 and spoke three languages.
Vine was laid to rest at the Quantico National Cemetery with full military honors that included a 21-gun salute, and thanks to goodhearted souls like Army Maj. Jaspen Booth, she had a whole group of new family and friends by her side.