Feature Reporter

Terry Bulger has been bringing you stories of the people and places that make Tennessee unique and interesting on News4 since 1990. Contact Terry if you have an interesting community story for him to cover.

A funeral was scheduled Wednesday for a Vietnam Veteran in Nashville, knowing he had no living family or close friends that would attend.

So, the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro sent out an open invitation for anyone to come.

Family doesn't have to be blood relatives, the family here today was veterans.

No one deserves an unattended funeral.

Certainly not Vietnam Vet Charles "Billy" Johnson.

When local veterans heard about this April 17th service, Veterans Cemetery in West Nashville invited anyone who cared about those who served.

"Kind of warmed my heart a little bit to see all these people here to pay final respects."

Veteran Jeff Wilson met him as his caretaker at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro.

"He always had a nice gentle smile and a good soul to him."

There to provide the funeral tidbits that family couldn't.

"All you had to do was hand him a KitKat bar and the man would just rub his hands together."

"I'm gonna miss that..."

Most people here, paid respects, watched the full military service, and never in their life met Billy. Still they came.

"It doesn't matter if I knew him or not, he fought for our country and we should be thankful for all he did for our freedom."

Thankful, hopefully not just in death, but in life.

"I'd like to impress upon every one in this room, don't wait for a veteran to die before you show your appreciation."

KitKats for a vet who chose to be called Billy, at his final service with new friends.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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