As many as 2,000 people came out this week to attend the funeral of Stanley Stoltz, a Vietnam War veteran with “no known” living family members. The Bennington, Nebraska native passed away Nov. 18, at age 73, Fox News reported.
Stoltz’s death was announced in a local newspaper, along with a public invitation to his funeral.
“Public invited to cemetery to honor Vietnam veteran with no known family,” read a notice in the Omaha World-Herald. “Interment at Omaha National Cemetery on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 2 pm.”
The 23-word announcement quickly gained traction on social media, and soon, multiple local news outlets were spreading the word.
When the day finally arrived, cemetery employees estimate that between 1,500 and 2,000 showed up to honor a man most of them had never met. The burial service began later than planned so officials could accommodate the vast crowd, WOWT-TV reported.
“No vet deserves to die alone,” attendee Dick Harrington told the local station.
In a later report, The Associated Press clarified that Stoltz had one living brother, who contacted the funeral home after reading the obituary, and was among the attendees at Tuesday’s service.
Stoltz was born May 29, 1945, and grew up in Curlew, Iowa. Former Bennington Mayor Bill Bohn, who knew Stoltz personally, told The Associated Press that the veteran settled in the small town after his service in Vietnam.
According to friends of Stoltz, he had no children. His first wife died of cancer, and he and his second wife divorced. Stoltz was preceded in death by his parents.
“This is the kind of reception our Vietnam veterans deserved,” attendee Amy Douglas told WOWT. “And the fact that he gets this kind of reception going home is fitting. It’s fitting.”