Missing In America Project
During an inventory of a crematorium, in 2006 two cremation urns were discovered in a closet storage facility. The urns contained the unclaimed remains of Sgt. Trueman, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict and his wife (also a veteran). The year of death for Sgt. Trueman was 1979. For 27 years, the resting place for Sgt. and Mrs. Trueman was a storage facility in a crematorium. Other funeral homes and crematoriums were inventoried. Other unclaimed remains of veterans were discovered. In November 2006, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery interred 21 cremated remains of forgotten veterans, with full military honors and the dignity these fallen heroes so richly deserve. This incident inspired MIAP.
Veterans Recovery Program History
In 2006 Retired Army Major, Fred Salanti, a Vietnam War veteran felt that this was a sad day for the veterans of our Country. He decided something should be done about this deplorable condition. Through his efforts and dedication, the Missing in America Project was formed. This is now a national organization. It's Mission Statement. Is as follows:
"The mission of the MIAP project is to locate, identify and intern the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state, and federal organizations ; to provide honor and respect to those who have served our country , by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes."
On May 9-10, 2007 The National Executive Committee of the American Legion in regular meeting assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana Adopted Resolution 24 , that the American Legion supports the mission of the Missing in America Project
Post 1244 MIAP Chapter Timeline
June 20, 2009. John Caldarelli urged the Post membership to help him pursue the MIAP mission in the Long Island area. The Post voted to support MIAP and form a team under the leadership of MIAP Chairman Caldarelli. Since that time, our MIAP team has conducted committal services for hundreds of Veterans. Some highlights:
March 12, 2010. New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (9th Assembly District) introduced, at our urging, the first legislation in New York State that would obligate funeral directors and crematory authorities to attempt to determine the veteran status of a deceased individual so that the cremated remains, if not claimed by an authorizing agent, can be afforded interment with military honors. It would also serve to protect the parties from liability regarding the release of information relating to the deceased person’s status as a veteran. On Veterans Day, 2010 a final version of this legislation was passed by the State legislature.
January 8, 2011. A Committal service for the unclaimed remains of remains of 20 Veterans was conducted at Calverton National Cemetery. The NYC Mayors Office of Veterans Affairs requested MIAP to ask the New York Chapter if they would undertake this mission. They were supported by American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244 and Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes. At the time, this was the largest interment of unclaimed Veterans whole remains in United States history.
May 19, 2012. In 2011, Our Post reached out to the Nassau-Suffolk Funeral Directors Association, asking for their cooperation in locating and identifying the abandoned cremains of Long Island Veterans. Through the assistance of the association's past President Martin Kohler, the association identified 62 veterans or family members of veterans.
On Armed Forces Day 2012, hearses from 14 funeral homes, escorted by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, American Legion Riders and other motorcycling groups, arrived in a procession at Long Island National Cemetery.
Each golden urn was carefully removed from its hearse by designated volunteers and placed on a blue clad table. In a ceremony involving over 500 veterans and other patriotic citizens, these 62 cremains were given full military honors and were interred in golden boxes in the niches of the cemetery's columbarium. This was one of the largest burials of cremated Veterans' remains in the United States.
August, 2012. MIAP Chairman John Caldarelli is honored as Legionnaire by Post 1244, Suffolk County American Legion, and the 10th District of New York American Legion for his achievements as chairman of Missing In America for Post 1244 and Suffolk County American Legion.
June 22, 2013. After months of painstaking work by our MIAP team and the cooperation of U.S. Columbarium of Middle Village, Queens, on over 1200 sets of cremains, the unclaimed cremated remains of 34 Veterans and 9 spouses of Veterans were identified as being eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Among those remains were those of two Veterans of the Civil War. Civil War re-enactors, elected officials, appropriate music and even the release of white doves made this a memorable occasion. The veterans were inurned at Long Island National Cemetery.
Thirty four veterans and nine spouses interred at Long Island National Cemetery. Included were the cremains of two soldiers who had served in the Civil War.
May 28, 2015. In a sequel to our interment of the two Civil War Veterans who were among the 34 interred on June 22, 2103, we learned from our Jewish genealogist Leonard Holtz, that one of those Civil War Veterans was Jewish. Since he had been buried in a decidedly Christian ceremony, it seemed only proper to arrange for a re-dedication of Mr. Lederer in the Jewish tradition. As a plus, MIAP genealogist Ms. Ann Marie Martin had since located his great granddaughter and great grandson who spoke at the ceremony about what was known about Mr. Lederer from family tradition.
June 14, 2015. Final Closure for a Family. Little did we know that on a cold January afternoon in January 2014, we would be bringing closure to a family which had long searched for some word of a missing loved one. U.S. Marine George Paul Csanadi was just one of the many Veterans we had become accustomed to providing services for at Calverton National Cemetery in part-
nership with the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs and Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes.
Months later, in November, 2014, Commander Bob Santo received an e mail from the young man's sister. George's brother, John Csanadi, searching for information about his father, came upon John Caldarelli's report on the burial of his brother George.His family had been looking for him for over 20 years.Together with his sister Theresa, they traced the story back to American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244.
On the morning of June 14 we met with the family of George Paul Csanadi for a reception at the Riverhead American Legion. They had traveled from all across the country to say goodbye to George.Approximately 15 adults and 4 children from as far away as Wisconsin traveled to visit his grave. After a light breakfast at the Riverhead Post 273, we escorted his grateful family to George’s grave site. It was an emotional reunion. This was the first time we had ever helped reunite a missing Veteran with his family.
October 27, 2015. Partnering with Charles Spencer of Long Island Area Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes, our Post 1244's MIAP team conducted a committal service at Long Island National Cemetery for ten unclaimed, cremated remains of Veterans and one spouse of a Veteran. Because three of the Veterans were of the Jewish faith, Our friend and Cantor Leonard Holtz joined with our Post Chaplain Mike Williams in providing for the religious element of our service.
September 27, 2016. The cremated remains of 26 veterans, plus the spouse of one of the veterans, were inurned at Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY. These remains had been stored for many years at U.S. Columbarium in Middle Village Queens. These were just a fraction of the abandoned cremains at the crematory. This result would not have been possible without the cooperation of Joseph DeTroia, President of U.S. Columbarium at Fresh Pond Crematory. The veterans included two veterans of the Spanish American War. There were Spanish American War re-enactors, doves, Coast Guard Auxiliary Band, and helicopter fly over.
Our MIAP team continues its work of locating the unclaimed cremated remains of Veterans. John has assumed the position of National Representative (NY) for Missing In America Project. He is working to establish other MIAP teams throughout New York State. In addition, we regularly conduct committal services at Calverton National Cemetery for New York City’s unclaimed veterans for New York City’s Department of Veterans Services.An important point must be made. From the very beginning, our Missing In America Project has been ably and reliably assisted by our Post 1244 Chapter of the American Legion Riders from escorting remains from funeral homes and crematoriums to providing the flag lines at all of our services. Our American Legion Riders have been integral to our effort to provide dignity and honor to these forgotten Veterans.For more information on MIAP see http://www.miap.us