101-Year-Old Marine Without Family to be Honored, Buried on Friday
The Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery and the Wyoming Patriot Guard are asking for the public's support when it will conduct a funeral service for a 101-year-old Marine and World War II veteran who died without any known family in the area.
Ray Barela served in the Marines from 1942-1946, said Mike Byers, the state leader of the Wyoming Patriot Guard that is encouraging people to attend the ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday at the cemetery, 80 Veterans Road.
"I'm trying to get the public interested, and getting a bunch of them to come out since he has no family," Byers said.
"I would really just like to see a big turnout to send him off," he said. "It's the least we can do for any veteran, let alone a World War II veteran."
Little is known about Barela's service or life, but 99% of Marines during World War II were in the South Pacific, Byers said. The Patriot Guard, he added, honors veterans and pays respect to them and their family by holding flags at funerals.
Long-time friend Randy Knudson said Remigio "Ray" Barela was born in Colorado.
His family moved to California, and he joined the Marines after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, said Knudson, who was the manager of Skyline Towers and knew Barela there. "I've been his only friend, really."
After the war, Barela stayed in California and worked as a vegetable farmer, a sheepherder and mechanic, moved to Wyoming in 1990, and retired at age 85, Knudson said.
Barela never had hobbies because he was always working, he said.
"Being a sheepherder, he really enjoyed just being by himself," Knudson said. "He never asked for any help, he was a wonderful guy."
Barela was frugal, and saved $125,000 which he spent for his own care before he could qualify for Medicare, Knudson said.
He spent his last years at an assisted living facility, and put his final savings towards his own funeral, Knudson added.