Homeless Vietnam veteran honored with help from vets, funeral home

By Saul Saenz, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, October 03, 2016, 5:43 PM EDT

Charles Marvin Hoover, a Vietnam veteran, was laid to rest in the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell Monday, complete with a 15-gun salute.

  • Charles Hoover, died on the streets of Marion County
  • Roberts Funeral Home helped daughter with funeral

His daughter, Kerri Hensel, is overwhelmed by the people who helped her lay her father to rest.

“They really helped me just, because I really couldn’t do it," Hensel said in between moments of uncontrollable crying. "I couldn’t. I was recently laid off my job. So I didn’t know where to go.”

Hoover was homeless and died on the streets of Marion County. His body went unclaimed at the Medical Examiner’s office in Leesburg for weeks.

Hensel had not talked to her father for years.

When the M.E.’s office called Roberts Funeral Home in Ocala, they offered to take over the costs and funeral arrangements, and even contact Hensel.

Hensel had no way of covering the costs after falling on hard times herself.

“It was going to be bad," she said. "He was going to have to go to the unclaimed people.”

Hensel says she is eternally grateful that her father did not die nameless and forgotten, that he received all the honors and dignity that a man who served his country deserves.

The cost for all the funeral arrangements is estimated to be more than $8,000. But the funeral home spokesman said you can’t put a price tag on the sacrifices of our veterans.

“He went to Vietnam, he served, he did his part," said Roberts Funeral Home spokesman Billy Johnson. "And when it came time to, he needed his country, we weren’t there for him.”

A handful of Patriot Guard Riders escorted Hoover from Ocala to Bushnell.

When Hoover’s casket arrived at his final resting place, more Patriot Guard Riders, and members of the VFW post 4781 were there, all bidding farewell to a fellow veteran.

“When you’re homeless, you have no family. They’re still veterans, they need to be honored. And that's what we do, we honor them,” said Patriot Guard Riders organizer Roger Shoemaker.

“It’s amazing, like. I’m truly blessed to know there’s such good people in the world, that somebody cares,” said Hensel.