The remains of 35 military veterans that had been unclaimed for decades in some cases were being escorted Monday from Santa Rosa to Dixon for long-delayed military burials.
Among the cremated remains are those of eight men who served in World War I.
A brief ceremony was held at the Santa Rosa Memorial Park at 11 a.m. before a hearse began the 75-mile drive to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. The motorcade included 111 motorcyclists from law enforcement, the Missing in America Project and the American Legion Riders.
In a brief ceremony, Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane said, "One of the tragedies of this is that you have people who dedicated their lives and never got the recognition they deserved."
"In America, we take a lot of our freedoms for granted, but without a strong military to protect us, we wouldn't have these freedoms," she said.
In addition to the World War I vets, the remains included those of 17 who served in World War II, one from the conflict in Korea, three with service in Vietnam and six with peace-time duty. The remains of two military spouses also were included in the transfer.
None of the veterans died during military service.
Sonoma County Veterans Remains Officer Ron Collier was largely responsible for identifying the military veterans. He researched the names of more than 300 remains held at Santa Rosa Memorial Park to determine whether they had been veterans.
Jackie Ritchie of Santa Rosa, whose husband David Ritchie is a Navy veteran who took part in the ceremony Monday, credited Collier for making the event happen.
Collier, she said, ended up becoming the 35 vets' next of kin, "because they had no next of kin."