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Team Keesler, local community honor forgotten hero

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public affairs
A "Forgotten Hero" ceremony was held for Pierre David Junod, a navigator in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Aug. 18, at the Biloxi National Cemetery.

Although Junod, a 66-year-old Buffalo, New York, native, had no immediate family, more than a hundred military and civilian members of the local community attended the ceremony, ensuring he wasn't buried alone.

"The VA sponsors these ceremonies for veterans with no family," said Lt. Col. Steven T. Dabbs, 81st Training Wing deputy wing chaplain. "But with all who attended, his church family, Air Force members, Department of Defense compatriots and motorcyclists, that is by far the largest showing of family possible."

The Keesler Honor Guard performed military funeral honors for the event and delivered the ceremonial flag to Max C. Peck, Jr., who was one of Junod's closest friends and a fellow member of The Nourishing Place chapel.

Junod, pronounced "Juno," was an orphan until the age of seven when he was adopted by a military family. He traveled extensively with his family, and after graduating high school in Europe, Junod obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Geology from Clarion College in Pennsylvania and joined the Air Force shortly after, said Peck.

"After leaving the Air Force as a major, he settled in Gulfport," said Peck. "He was an independent businessman for a time and then spent several years homeless. Our church found him and connected him with the VA hospital where he found treatment and became self-sustaining again. He worked odd jobs and assisted with church youth, (he was) a devoted servant."

Peck described Junod as a good Christian man who kept to himself and enjoyed stamp collecting, real estate speculation and had a knack for mathematics.

"He would sometimes play chess online, nine games at once," said Peck.

"Once, I had to calculate the amount of oil to mix with gasoline in my lawnmower," Peck added. "I couldn't even figure out the equation, and he did the math in his head."

His church family and Air Force family weren't the only attendees of his military committal ceremony. Various motorcycle groups also congregated to honor their fallen brethren.

"We do this as often as we can for military veterans," said Cat Aguda, a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. "Especially for fallen brothers without family. We make the time for them because they deserve it."

Groups like the CVMA, the American Patriot Riders, and Patriot Guard Riders are made up of all branches of service and act as military support communities that attend the funerals of members of the U.S. military, firefighters and police at the invitation of the decedent's family.

Although he tried his whole life, Junod passed away before finding any of his blood-related parents or family, said Peck.

"I get sad every time I think about his passing," said Peck. "He spent most of his life alone, and he died without any family, but at least the military was able to give him a proper send off. He will be greatly missed by his family at The Nourishing Place."