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Arlington Cemetery cancels funeral for Vietnam vet

8:16 AM, Oct 18, 2013   |    comments
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- Eugene Curry's wife says he earned a Purple Heart with two gold stars, a National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct medal, and Vietnamese Service Medal, also with two stars for his years of military service.

But none of that is good enough for Arlington National Cemetery. That's where Curry asked to be buried and initially, the cemetery agreed.

Curry died earlier this year. His widow, Betty Alba-Curry, even had a date for the service: Veterans Day Weekend, Nov. 8, at 10 a.m.  

"What a better honor," Alba-Curry said.

It would be nearly eight months after her husband died, but the cemetery told her upfront, these things take time.  

Since she couldn't afford to preserve his body until then, she had him cremated. The family patiently waited for closure, as he received the honors they felt rightfully due to him.

But Wednesday night, Alba-Curry says a cemetery clerk gave her a call. There had been a mistake. Her husband did not qualify.

"This man has three Purple Hearts, gone to Vietnam serving our country. He gave everything," said Alba-Curry, frustrated by the news.

A statement from the cemetery says to be buried there, Curry must have received an honorable discharge. According to his paperwork, Curry instead received a general discharge under "honorable conditions."

Alba-Curry says her husband was discharged after being sprayed in the face with Agent Orange.

"Even when he got wounded, he wanted to stay," Alba-Curry said.

She says her husband spent 30 years battling the side effects, from painful sores to kidney failure.

"He would be so brokenhearted.  It would make him cry because he would feel like he was being spit on again," Alba-Curry said.

Congressman David Scott has promised an investigation into why it took so long for the cemetery to notice the error and whether anything can be done about it.

Alba-Curry said had the cemetery told her upfront, she never would have had him cremated.

"I would have had the casket with a flag draped on it, in a horse drawn carriage like he deserved," she said.

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