Decorated Vietnam veteran Leo Baldwin Jr. will have an American Legion honor guard when he’s buried today at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
“Our honor guard was called upon to do the proper thing. We’ll have a three-round rifle volley. Our chaplain will play taps,” said David DeVault, a member of American Legion Post 15. “We’re going to fold the flag, but we have no one to give it to.”
Baldwin, 65, had no reachable relatives when he died Sunday at Oklahoma Veteran Center in Talihina.
Services will be at noon today.
Baldwin spent more than 21 years in the Navy and was discharged in 1989 at the Navy rate of chief. Bill Isbell, a program assistant at Fort Gibson National Cemetery, said records show Baldwin served in the Vietnam War and received a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Navy Good Conduct medal, Navy marksman medal and other honors.
“None of us knew him or anything about him,” DeVault said. “We feel honored because we’re doing him an honor, putting him in his rightful place. He’s due this honor.”
An obituary prepared by Talihina Funeral Home said Baldwin was devoted to his mother, Nora Baldwin, and “wrote letters to her often.”
The obituary said Baldwin was preceded in death by both his parents.
A native of Idabel, Baldwin spent the last few years of his life at Oklahoma Veteran Center.
“We were kind of his family,” center administrator Roy Griffith said. “He was kind of a loner. The last three or four months, I only saw him a few times. He’d get his breakfast in the morning, go to his room.”
Griffith said Baldwin didn’t go on any of the outings or join in games with others at the center.
“I never saw a family; he was supposed to have children up north, but he never was close,” Griffith said.
The obituary said Baldwin enjoyed fishing, reading and watching television and once was “Resident of the Month” at the center. He received a degree in welding at Paris Welding School and liked to restore old cars, the obituary said.
DeVault said the American Legion post sometimes is called to be an honor guard for a veteran with no family or no home.
“We did one a while back for a homeless veteran,” DeVault said. “This doesn’t happen very often, maybe once every two or three years. We do 100 to 150 a year, but most of the veterans have families.”
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or email@example.com.
If you go
WHAT: Funeral for Navy veteran Leo Baldwin Jr.
WHEN: Noon today.
WHERE: Fort Gibson National Cemetery.