West Texan Helps Honor East Texan Serviceman

Mickey Starnes now lives in Midland, but this weekend, he came back to Tyler on a mission.

"It just felt like it was my duty to try to get him a headstone," he said.

Over the past several days, Starnes has been hard at work looking for the final resting place of James Robert McClung, a navy serviceman and close family friend.

More than a decade ago, McClung was working at an East Texas motocross park when a bike veered off course and struck him in the head.  He died later from his injuries.

McClung's body is now buried at Cathedral in the Pines Cemetery, next to members of his navy family.  But his plot continues to go unmarked.

"I feel that he should be represented with more than just a piece of sod," said Starnes

"He's probably entitled to a veteran's marker,"  said Terry McAllister with Dignity Memorial.   He said Veterans Affairs does provide a government headstone to diseased veterans who have not been dishonorably discharged.  Hundreds of veterans are buried in his cemetery and he said he'd help in anyway to make sure McClung is honored properly.

"I think it's important to memorialize so that future generations can come out and see their past," he said.

As for Starnes, he said he'll just keep working to complete his mission.  "Maybe he could just rest in peace a little bit better," he said.

In order for the VA to provide the headstone, Starnes would have to produce death certificate and documents proving McClung's military service.  He said the headstone would cost about $600.

Layron Livingston, Reporting  llivingston@kltv.com