Henry McHarney hammed a flagpole into the ground of Sunset Memorial Gardens. This flag is the only marker of an Albuquerque that served in both world wars.
“My granddad will not lie in an unmarked grave another hour,” McHarney said of his grandfather, Rupert H. McHarney, Sr., who passed in 1976.
The cemetery had made a mistake in marking the plots of both Rupert McHarney, Jr. and Sr., which resulted in Henry’s grandfather’s plot going unmarked for several years.
He said he doesn’t visit the cemetery often, but noticed the absence of a grave marker during a 2015 trip.
"When we buried my grandfather, who's a World War I and World War II naval veteran, he received a government-issued, monumental grave marker," McHarney said. "That was in 1976. My father, who was also a naval officer with the same name spelled the same way as my grandfather, was buried in 2010."
Chris Keller, the vice president of French’s Funeral and Cremations, said there was some confusion that caused the mix-up between the two McHarney gravestones.
"The only individual of that name that we had in the park was (Henry's) grandfather so when a headstone arrived with the name on it, it was placed on his grandfather's grave," Keller said. "Three or four months later in the beginning 2011, when his family brought in his father's cremated remains to actually be buried, we realized we had two people of this name, one junior, one senior."
"It sounds like there was one ordered from the mortuary. If that's the case and it just wasn't delivered, then we will do whatever we can to reorder it through the government and get it posted out here," Keller said. "I have to have that documentation and I have nothing on my end. We have scoured everything. There's just nothing that we have."
"My grandfather was the single most patriotic honorable man I've ever met. He volunteered for World War II when he was 49 years old," McHarney said as he fought back tears. "For them to disrespect him like that is beyond my comprehension."
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