Hundreds show up for WWII Marine with no family


When Remigio “Ray” Barela passed away Feb. 11, 2020, he had outlived his known family. His community made sure that the 101-year-old WWII Veteran wouldn’t have an empty funeral.

The funeral was set to start at 10am, but every seat and place to stand by Oregon Trail State Veteran’s Cemetery chapel was full. Mike Beyers, state captain for Wyoming Patriot Guard Riders, was touched.

“It means everything to come out and honor this man... No family left, except for all this family lined up down this road and sitting inside this chapel,” Byers told Oil City News. “That’s his family. It means everything. Every veteran deserves that.”

Born and raised in Southern Colorado, Barela served as a marine in WWII from 1942 to 1946. After his service, he was a mechanic, farmer, and sheepherder before retiring in Casper, WY.

When Beyers was contacted by the funeral home that Barela had no surviving family, Beyers got the word out on social media. As Barela was laid to rest with full military honors, he was surrounded by hundreds of members of his community.

Casper Police Department Chief Keith McPheeters read a letter from Gov. Mark Gordon during the service.

“Wyoming is proud to remember and honor one of our own,” wrote the governor. “We here today demonstrate that here in Wyoming, our veterans are never alone. We remember your service, and are grateful for it.”

“I’m sure it means a lot to him, I’m sure he sees what’s going on,” said Byers, looking out at the mass of strangers showing their respect for a WWII veteran.

“He knows.”