Dozens gather to salute Leander ‘unaccompanied veteran’ at his funeral

Local

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Dozens gathered Thursday morning to make sure that a U.S. Navy veteran from Leander would not be buried alone.

Mark Lyle Walker, 58, died on Aug. 25 from health complications.

In his obituary posted by the Beck Funeral Home in Cedar Park, he was listed as an “unaccompanied veteran” and a submariner who served in the U.S. Navy.

With no family and few means, Williamson County commissioners agreed on Sept. 17 decided to help pay for Walker’s funeral after learning he served on two submarines at various ports throughout the world before calling Texas home.

“This is Williamson County, Texas, and [Walker] is worthy of more than a simple cremation and his remains to be scattered under a county tree,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said. “He’s worthy of all honor that anyone that has served our nation receives.”

Walker most recently lived with his friend of more than 40 years, Darrell Mantooth. He expressed his gratitude to the county Thursday for all the honors and attention that have now come for his late friend.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Mantooth said with tears welling in his eyes. “I’ll never be able to thank them enough. I didn’t think this day was gonna happen.”

Rabbi Jonathan Dade of Georgetown suggested Thursday that Walker’s sense of service extended in his civilian life to helping people and pets.

“He had a really big heart, and that’s why today we’re taking care of him,” Rabbi Dade told the crowd. “If his heart was big enough to take care of other people and animals, then this community of people here right now, we can take care of him, can’t we?”

Following the funeral, Walker was taken to Killeen to be buried at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery with full military honors.

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