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Volunteers sought to attend funeral of WWII veteran who died without surviving family

Massachusetts state and local officials are asking for volunteers to attend the final services on Thursday for a 97-year-old Army veteran and Lawrence native who died leaving no family members behind.

>> Read more trending news 

James McCue was 21 when he enlisted in the Army in 1943. The highly decorated World War II veteran served in five major battles, including the D-Day invasion, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Urena tweeted Wednesday.

McCue, whose wife died before him, passed away Feb. 7 in a Methuen nursing home. He was born and raised in Lawrence.

Members of the board of directors for Lawrence's Bellevue Cemetery reached out to the city's director of Veterans' Services, Jaime Melendez, asking for his help gathering volunteers to attend McCue's graveside services.

Melendez quickly spread the word at a conference among other veterans' services officers and on social media.

"He’s definitely a hero to me," Melendez said of McCue. "I am asking my fellow veterans and the veteran community and the community in general to help us honor him and come out."

To Melendez, there is no one more deserving of being laid to rest honorably. With so much interest already, he expects a large turnout.

"I consider the World War II veterans a national treasure, and so I like to honor them and cherish them while they’re still here. But we definitely need to honor them when they’re gone," Melendez said. "We have an old saying in the military. It’s ‘Lest we forget.’ So let us not forget." 

McCue's services, complete with full military honors, will take place at 1 p.m. at the veterans' lot of the Bellevue Cemetery at 100 Reservoir St., in Lawrence.

WATCH: Soldier returning from Afghanistan gets heartwarming homecoming

Dozens of people in Winthrop, Massachusetts, lined the streets to surprise a soldier returning home from serving in Afghanistan.

>> Watch the news report here

Friends and neighbors lined the bridge into town Saturday to welcome Beau Schlichting back from Afghanistan, with a police escort from Logan Airport used to bring the soldier home.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

"It was very overwhelming," said Beau's mother, Holly Schlichting. "Very overwhelming and very surprising because it is cold and people are very busy, so I'm really proud that all of our friends and family came out to support us. We have a great community here."

Schlichting's mother said he jumped to serve as soon as he could, spending the last nine months in Afghanistan.

>> On Boston25News.com: Veteran sends care package with flag to serviceman

She said it hasn't been easy for the family, counting the days until he came back.

"Torture, every time the news said something about the Middle East, I was connected to my phone," Holly Schlichting said.

Holding American flags and signs of support, the community often surprises those who come home after serving. 

"They do this for anyone coming home, it's not just Beau," his uncle Butch Schlichting said. 

The soldier's uncle helped organize the welcome party, and he said, as a retired Marine, he knows just how much it all means to his nephew.

"It's so much for them to see the support of the town," Butch Schlichting said.

>> Read more trending news 

With tears of joy and plenty of hugs, Schlichting's friends were happy to welcome him back with the big surprise.

"I think it takes a lot of heart," Mike Titus said. "He’s a very brave person."

Friends and neighbors said the surprise was the least they could do for someone who's given so much.

"We're thrilled that he's here, home, safe and sound," neighbor Terry Lawlor said.

Army veteran holds sign outside Houston hospital asking for work

An unemployed Army veteran certified as a respiratory therapist held a sign outside a Houston hospital looking for work, KHOU reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Staff Sgt. Lajon Elliott wore fatigues and boots and stood outside the Texas Medical Center, where he was treated for a stroke last February, the television station reported. 

The handmade sign reads “Army veteran, patient of this hospital, wants to work after stroke.”

Elliott, certified, registered and trained as a respiratory therapist during his 17 years in the military, said he has had one job interview in three years.

“I’m more than qualified,” Elliott told KHOU. “I’m not sure what’s happening but I would like to know.”.

Two of the businesses where Elliott applied issued statements to the television station, noting they could not specifically comment on job applications. 

“However, recruiting and retaining veterans is important to MD Anderson, as U.S. service members have valuable attributes, such as leadership, dependability, teamwork and problem-solving skills,” a spokesman for MD Anderson said. “We currently employ nearly 500 individuals who have identified themselves as veterans, active duty service members, National Guard members or reservists.”

According to a Memorial Hermann spokesman, the organization currently employs many U.S. military veterans. 

“In a three-year period, from 2012 to 2015, we hired nearly 1,000 veterans, and the system is proud to celebrate our employees' service to our country.” the spokesman said.

Elliott said he is hoping a hospital will find room for him, and is prepared to stand outside with his sign every day until he finds a job, KHOU reported.

Indiana veteran reunited with military dog

After five years of trying, an Indiana veteran has been reunited with his military dog.

>> Read more trending news 

Joe Steenbeke, 28, found out Jan. 23 that adoption papers had been approved for Tess, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, WXIN reported.

Steenbeek is a former Army tactical explosive detector dog handler, and he was paired with Tess, his bomb-sniffing partner, in Afghanistan, from May 2012 to February 2013, the television station reported.

Steenbeke got the news from U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., by cellphone.

“I had to stop, catch my breath and sit down a minute,” Steenbeke told the South Bend Tribune. “That dog can still make me emotional at the drop of a hat.”

Steenbeke suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but he fondly recalls his time with Tess.

“Not being with her, I feel like I am constantly going through a huge emotional roller coaster,” Steenbeke told the Tribune. “I feel like it’s a part of me missing because I don’t have her around.”

Walorski’s spokesman, Jack Morrissey, told the Tribune that her office contacted officials with the U.S. Air Force who run the Military Working Dog Program to “put the Steenbekes on their radar, make sure the proper documentation and paperwork got to the right people.”

Steenbeke became the golf coach at Ancilla College in July, the newspaper reported. While the effects of PTSD continue to be an issue, Steenbeke is comforted by the idea that his best friend in the military has returned.

“She’s already helped me so much,” Steenbeke told the Tribune. “And she hasn’t been here.”

Thousands attend military funeral of Air Force veteran 

An Air Force veteran received a military funeral Monday in Texas, and thousands of strangers attended when it looked as if no family members would attend, KVUE reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Joseph Walker, who served from September 1964 to September 1968 and served in the Vietnam War, including service in the Vietnam War. originally was supposed to be buried in early December but it was pushed back, the television station reported. 

Officials at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen put out a call for people to attend the service.

“We have the distinct honor to provide a full military burial for unaccompanied United States Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker,” the cemetery said in Facebook post. "We do not leave veterans behind.”

A member of Wind Therapy Freedom Riders also encouraged the public to attend, KVUE reported.

"Let's show our respects to an American veteran," Luis Rodriguez told the television station reported.

All had the same sentiment: No veteran should be buried alone.

The calls were answered by thousands of people -- including Walker’s daughter, who arrived too late for the service but was given the U.S. flag from her father’s casket by cemetery officials, KVUE reported.

“We are overwhelmed at all this love and support,” Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery officials said in a post on its Facebook page Monday.

9 hurt, 2 critically, in New Mexico military vehicle crash

Nine people were hurt, two critically, in a military vehicle crash in New Mexico, authorities said Tuesday night.

According to KDBC and KFOX, the wreck, which involved two Stryker vehicles, occurred about 7:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 54 in Otero County. 

>> Read more trending news 

The nine victims, all military personnel, were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Read more here or here.

Veteran meets girls who returned lost wallet to his doorstep

A disabled Marine Corps veteran in Detroit met the twin sisters who returned a wallet he lost to his doorstep last week, WJBK reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Marc Walsh lost his wallet in the snow, and it was found by 14-year-old sisters Makhia Vincent and Makyla Vincent as they walked to school, the television station reported. The girls brought it to Walsh’s home but he was away. However, a security camera at the residence caught the girls’ good deed.

“I'm so incredibly grateful, so grateful and humbled,” Walsh told WJBK

Walsh’s wallet contained several hundred dollars in cash, credit cards and a military identification, the television station reported.

“Really heartbroken, I really didn't know what to do,” Walsh told WJBK.

The television station arranged a meeting Saturday between Walsh and the twins.

For the Vincent girls, thoughts of their grandfather weighed heavily in their decision to return the wallet.

“I read the veterans card and I was like, ‘I would hate if that was my granddad and that happened to him,’ so I knew we had to return it,” Makyla told WJBK.

The girls stood in front of the security camera and waved the wallet before dropping it on the doorstep. 

Reaction to the girls’ honesty was positive and swift.

“All of a sudden we were all over the news and people are saying, ‘Thank you for turning it in’ and everything, it was great,” Makhia told the television station. 

Walsh thanked the sisters and gave them all the cash that had been in his wallet when he lost it, WJBK reported.

“I feel really happy and grateful that I could help somebody because I know other people could have kept the money,” Makyla told the television station.

Army sergeant shot 13 times in Iraq earns college degree

An Army sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, shot 13 times during a mission in Iraq, completed another rendezvous with destiny Saturday when he walked across a stage to receive his college degree, WSMV reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Jay Strobino, whose acts of heroism are documented in Jim Frederick’s 2011 book, “Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death,” earned his diploma at Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in exercise science, the television station reported.

Strobino took a bullet in the leg that snapped his femur, was shot twice in the lung and another bullet pierced his neck.

"Yeah, it's wild," Strobino told WSMV. "It's nothing short of a miracle that I'm alive let alone standing on my own legs moving my own body.

"My mind hasn't caught up. I still can't grasp it. It still feels surreal. It still feels like a dream, like this is not real, and it's wild.”

Strobino also minored in biology and said he is thinking about pursuing his master’s degree at MTSU, the television station reported. He said he wants to land a job at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs so he can help other veterans reach their post-military goals.

"The sky isn't even the limit. You can push past that, like there is no limit," Strobino told WSMV

Sailors reunited with families just in time for holidays

Dozens of sailors from the U.S. Navy are back with their families in Jacksonville after an eight-month deployment.

They were reunited with their loved ones at Naval Air Station Jax on Saturday – just in time for the holidays.

“We haven’t put up any trees, no decorations. No presents wrapped," Melanie Skiva said. "We're waiting for him to come home to do that."

Skiva and her four kids anxiously awaited the arrival of their husband and dad at the hangar Saturday.

Their youngest is just 10 months old.

He was one of several other babies at the homecoming who have spent the first few months of their lives without their mom or dad.

>> Read more trending news 

Amber Wright said her husband was home for the birth of their youngest. They’ve been counting down the days for him to come home. Luckily her military husband didn’t miss one of his child’s milestones.

“He’s right on the verge of walking. He’s held out until he’s home, so at least he’ll be able to see that,” Wright said.

When the MH-60R planes touched down, families ran out to greet their loved ones.

Some of them were overcome with emotion as they hugged and kissed.

The HSM-72 Proud Warriors were deployed aboard the Norfolk-based, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman for eight months.

It departed in April to support maritime security operations in international waters across the globe. 

Loved ones said the time apart was tough, but the wait was worth it to have them home just in time for the holidays.

“I’m ready to get him out of here, put him in the car, take him home and never let him leave again,” Skiva said with a laugh. The sailors at NAS Jax were among 240 personnel returning to their families this weekend.

Trump to review case of Matt Golsteyn, Army veteran accused of murder

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Sunday morning that he would be reviewing the case of a former special forces officer and Afghanistan war veteran who is facing a murder charge. He said the review is being done “at the request of many.”

>> Read more trending news 

The Washington Post reported that the Army notified former Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn Thursday that he will face one murder charge. He is accused of killing a suspected Taliban bomb maker without permission in 2010, while in Afghanistan. The military has been investigating him since 2011, when officials said he confessed to the killing during a polygraph test that was part of a CIA job interview. Phillip Stackhouse, Golsteyn’s attorney, disputed the characterization of his client’s comments during the interview.

“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” Trump tweeted. “He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”

Golsteyn told Fox News in 2016 he killed the suspected bomb maker.

“There’s limits on how long you can hold guys,” he said at the time. “You realize quickly that you make things worse. It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed.”

That interview led the investigation to be reopened after a series of on-and-off investigations, Fox News reported. It had previously been dropped in 2014.

The Washington Post reported that Trump’s tweeted statement could impact Golsteyn’s military prosecution. It is expected that the commander chief does not make statements that would influence an open case.

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