Veterans finally buried after ashes left in funeral homes for decades

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Salvatore Cudia's restaurant was the place to be and be seen in Phoenix in the 1940s.

Movie producers filmed at Cudia City Restaurant and Cafe, which was once in the area of Camelback Road and 40th street.
Jim Judge remembered visiting with his grandfather, a World War I veteran.

“I did come out here as a youngster and play on his billiard table, it is one of my early memories,” said Judge.
Judge was surprised to learn his grandpa’s ashes have been sitting in a funeral home for 41 years.

The ashes of 28 more veterans, who served in either WWI, World War II or Korea were also left in funeral homes around Arizona.

Two of them are spouses.

The Missing in America Project (MIAP) locates the ashes of lost veterans and gives them dignified burial ceremonies like the one held on Wednesday.

“Sometimes they (the cremations) were paid for by neighbors, cousins or sometimes people just didn't come and pick them up,” said MIAP spokesperson Kathleen Laurier.

In Cudia's case there was a communication mix up between family members about who picked up his ashes.

Dozens of veterans watched as America's heroes left their long time home for good.

A parade of motorcycles followed the vets to their final resting place.
These men and women are now buried at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix.

One of the veterans had been sitting on a shelf for 55 years.

That’s a long time to be lost but it's never too late to share their story.

Cudia's grandson agrees.

“It was a great honor for him. He was a great patriot. He would love nothing more to be interred with his fellow patriots on this day," Judge said.

According to the MIAP, there are hundreds of ashes of veterans left in funeral homes.

So far, MIAP has given 121 lost but not forgotten veterans burial ceremonies.