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Oregonians Turn Out for Service of Major Thomas Egan (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a roof over his head when he died. He had friends and at least one distant relative, but this vet passed away as a forgotten man.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - Maj Thomas L. Egan was a retired Oregon National Guard officer who the world seemed to forget, and then remember, but just a little too late. The 60-year old veteran was found in mid-December frozen to death on a Eugene, Oregon sidewalk, near the corner of West First Avenue and Blair Boulevard.
This veteran was remembered and honored Saturday at the Oregon Guard Armory in Eugene at 1:30 PM. One of the people sure to attend events like this is Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org.
Long before this site that documents every life lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, Q began founded VietnamWarHeroes.org. This site documents the lives of those who served during the Vietnam War.
He says he counted 53 people in attendance for Major Thomas L. Egan's memorial service. He said there were also 23 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that makes a point of honoring those who served.
Based on what is known, Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a roof over his head when he died. He did have friends and at least one distant relative, but this soldier slipped through the cracks as all too many veterans do in this age, Madp says.
"You know, he had no family, so we all came as a family to honor him. He had a couple of friends who attended and also a couple of people who served with him."
He continued, "We spend billions of dollars helping people in far away places who don't like us, but we have veterans freezing to death in this country."
Madp says it is a bad situation and more outreach needs to take place for American veterans, many of whom are stricken with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their military service and contribution to their country.
Regarding Thomas Egan's homelessness and reported alcohol problem, Madp said, "It almost sounds like they're trying to make it his fault, and maybe it is, but we the people should have helped him."
At least two retired Oregon Guard general officers attended the event Saturday; underscoring the care that does exist for people like Major Egan.
"We should not forget and neglect our veterans, yet it takes place all too often," Madp said.
I asked Q if he believes this case to be isolated.
"Hell no" he answered. "This one people are hearing about because his friends who cared pushed it into the media. If people hadn't pushed it the way they did, I think his death would have just gone to the side."
Eugene's KVAL TV news and other organizations did take the time to cover the memorial for Major Egan. It is a sad loss and a sad story, but there was respect for him in the end.
For more images from the service, please visit Q Madp's VietnamWarHeroes.org/egan.htm
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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