FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - A local Navy veteran, who died from cancer in April, had one final wish-- to be buried at sea, but the sailor's remains have been stored at a naval base in Florida for several months because of a backlog in the service.
Larry Brown retired after 22 years in the Navy as a chief petty officer. His son, Art Brown, said his father was cremated and his family brought his ashes to the Mayport Sea Burial office in Jacksonville, FL in August. More than three months later, his father still has not been laid to rest.
"The fact that he's sitting in a box, in a cabinet, in someone's office, I just can't even imagine," Brown said. "I mean right now it just really upsets me to even think about it."
Brown said he has been in contact with officials from the sea burial office. He said he was told the service was backlogged, with the ashes of as many as 350 to 400 veterans waiting to be buried at sea.
"They said it could be six months, it could be a year, it could be longer, and that's too open-ended," Brown said. "We waited from July to April to see how long he was going to live, and now we have to wait to see how long it's going to take him to be rested, that's not acceptable."
Brown said he doesn't want his father to have priority over any other veterans, but his main concern is getting his father laid to rest while his mother is still in good health. He and his mother are also Navy veterans.
"This is a gentlemen who until the day he died wore his Navy hat and his Navy jacket, and told everybody 'I am first and foremost a United States Navy sailor,' so he deserves a lot better," Brown said.
Only sailors who were killed while on active duty, were honorably discharged or retired can be buried at sea.
Our CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, FL reached out to the Mayport Sea Burial office for comment, but haven't heard back.