Florida community attends funeral for veteran with no family, friends

Air Force veteran Martin O'Neill, 75, laid to rest in Lake City

By Carianne Luter - Social Media Producer

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - A community in Columbia County came together Tuesday to honor the life of an Air Force veteran.

People attended a funeral for Martin "Marty" O'Neill, a 75-year-old veteran who had no family or friends.

Word of the "celebration of life" spread quickly after a Facebook post went viral. 

"It's kind of a sad situation that this has played out across the United States where we have our veterans that they actually have no local family, and whenever they pass, they're left alone," Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter told WCJB-TV.

The funeral was held about 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Gateway-Forest Lawn Funeral Home and Crematory in Lake City. 

WATCH: Video from WCJB of community members attending funeral for veteran

Law enforcement officers and rescue personnel also attended. A flag ceremony was held, a symbol of the honor earned and sacrifice made in battle while serving America.

"We were privileged to be a part of a funeral for an Air Force veteran with no family to attend," the Columbia County Fire Rescue said. "Many in the community stepped up to show their respect for this veteran’s service to his country." 

O'Neill was born Nov. 5, 1943. He served his country in the Vietnam War, married, divorced and passed away without children Aug. 2, 2019, the Lake City Fire Department said. 

Though no one present at the service knew O'Neill personally, community members still showed up to honor him. 

WCJB reported that according to the director of the cemetery, O'Neill, along with his guardian, set up his own funeral plan. He said it cost $6,000 of his own money.

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.