He led a pleasant life in the Wilmington area and built his family from his friends and neighbors. He was described as a man who would do anything to help others, including opening his home to the homeless.
When he died on Jan. 15, 2015, at the age of 53 due to congestive heart failure, he had no legal relatives to bury him. His cremains sat unclaimed on a shelf for almost 10 months, but on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, Lance Cpl. Mauney will be interred and honored for his military service.
Elizabeth Thomason lived next door to Lance Cpl. Mauney, and he was known simply as “Mr. Andrew” or “Uncle Andrew” to her family. Mrs. Thomason said he became part of her family; they celebrated holidays together and helped each other out when times were tough.
Over and over again, the word Mrs. Thomason used to describe Lance Cpl. Mauney was “amazing.”
“He was very caring and put everybody before himself,” Mrs. Thomason said. “He just helped anybody he could possibly help.”
This included local homeless men and women. It didn’t matter if money was tight, Mrs. Thomason said. Lance Cpl. Mauney invited them to share his home until they were able to get on their feet. His neighbors mentioned the possible danger of opening his door to strangers, but Lance Cpl. Mauney never thought of it like that, Mrs. Thomason said. He only saw people in need of help.
It was one of the views he brought with him from the U.S. Marine Corps, Mrs. Thomason said. Lance Cpl. Mauney told her he joined for the life experience and was in awe of all he witnessed. Though he didn’t share many details, he did say the military helped him grow “as a young fella” as he liked to say, Mrs. Thomason said, laughing.
It was that military experience that is now allowing Lance Cpl. Mauney to be put to rest, thanks to the Missing in America Project.
The MIA Project locates, identifies and inters unclaimed remains of United States veterans. Their website states the organization wants to “provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes.”
The Rev. Bill Sirginson reached out to Wilmington Funeral & Cremation on behalf of the Missing in America Project.
“They locate people in funeral homes or coroner’s offices if they’re left on the shelf for an extended period of time and find out if they were in the military,” the Rev. Sirginson said.
He sent a form for Lance Cpl. Mauney to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis where he received a DD-214 confirming Lance Cpl. Mauney’s military service and honorable discharge.
The Rev. Sirginson worked alongside Crystal Treanor, the outreach director at Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, to set up a service and burial for Lance Cpl. Mauney. She posted the service information on several websites and social media platforms and said she received messages from Marines who wanted to help, including retired Sgt. Maj. Emmett Salas.
Sgt. Maj. Salas said there will be firetrucks parked along Highway 17 North between Wilmington and Jacksonville to honor Lance Cpl. Mauney’s funeral procession to Coastal Carolina Veterans Cemetery. Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller has also offered to send two sheriff’s vehicles to meet the procession at the county line and bring Lance Cpl. Mauney to the cemetery.
Sgt. Maj. Salas also reached out to Lance Cpl. Mauney’s former military unit, the 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, who will be sending soldiers to represent the unit at the ceremony in his honor.
There are many people helping to honor Lance Cpl. Mauney, and Sgt. Maj. Salas said his reasons for wanting to help were simple.
“He’s a Marine, and we don’t just leave Marines,” Sgt. Maj. Salas said. “He served honorably. I am enjoying some of the freedom that he fought for. We have to stand up for this man who did his country a service.”
Ms. Treanor said it’s been touching to see Lance Cpl. Mauney’s life recognized.
“The response and support from the military community has been very moving and it has been an honor and privilege to be involved with planning this service,” Ms. Treanor said.
A memorial service will begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, at Wilmington Funeral & Cremation in Wilmington. His urn will then be escorted to Coastal Carolina Veterans Cemetery for a committal service beginning at noon. The Camp LeJeune U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard will provide full military honors. Mrs. Thomason will be presented with the flag.
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Amanda Thames is the obituary writer for Port City Daily. Reach her at 910-772-6300 or email@example.com.