LIMON, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado veteran is finally receiving his military headstone, more than 30 years after passing away.
William Bruzzichesi died in 1989 after serving with the U.S. Army in World War II and then reenlisting to serve with the U.S. Air Force in Korea. But for some reason, he never received proper military honors or a headstone.
“Apparently the honors were not rendered, that is due,” said Michael Crow with the American Legion.
Saturday, a small group gathered at the Pershing Memorial Cemetery to unveil that headstone. But the men responsible for making it happen weren’t there. Instead, they sat roughly 4 miles away — inside the Limon Correctional Facility.
Robert Champ and Robert Herdman are both incarcerated, and both are veterans themselves.
“It rang a bell, and I took it personally,” Champ said. “It was really important.”
‘Time passes by, but those things should never be diminished’
Champ and Herdman heard through the grapevine that Bruzzichesi didn’t have a headstone, and they filled out the required paperwork to make it happen.
“Time passes by, but those things should never be diminished,” Herdmansaid. “It’s something that any veteran would do.”
Both men declined to talk about why they are in prison, saying they’d prefer the focus of the story to be on Bruzzichesi.
“Just because we made mistakes and came to prison doesn’t mean we’re not patriots, and doesn’t mean we’re not veterans,” Herdman said. “We care.”
Both say they are planning to be released within the next few years and say Bruzzichesi’s headstone will be one of their first stops.
“I will make it a point to stop by there and give Sgt. Bruzzichesi a salute, because he was an honorable man,” Champ said.
Bruzzichesi’s family spoke briefly at the ceremony, thanking the men for what they did.
“I believe in reforming to society, and they’re just trying to do their best for us, and we appreciate that,” said Bruzzichesi’s grandson, Lane Roan.
Bruzzichesi’s daughter Anna said it’s been tough to visit the unmarked grave, but she plans on making regular trips now.
“We can finally set it down where he is at, and to come visit and not be so upset and heartbroken that we didn’t have it for so long,” she said.