COVINGTON, Tenn. — Hundreds of people in Covington attended an emotional memorial service for an unclaimed Vietnam veteran Monday morning.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders carried the casket of Marine Raymond Parker to a memorial service attended by hundreds, many of whom never personally knew the man.

Parker, a Marine, was 71 when he died on December 29 in a Jackson, Tennessee assisted living facility. According to his obituary, Raymond Parker served in Vietnam as a Marine rifleman, but when he died, he left no family contacts.

Photo of Raymond Parker when he was 19

Maley-Yarbrough Funeral Home was in charge of arraignments. They sent out a call for the general public to attend Monday’s service and started searching for anyone possibly related to the man, even reaching out to Carley and Lance Parker from Lucedale, Mississippi.

“The funeral home actually contacted us looking for a relative and asked was my husband his son and he was not but we’re honored to come today anyway,” Carley said.

Perhaps, Ryan Payne of Brighton, who received the flag that covered Parker’s casket, was as much a part of Parker’s family as anyone.

“He lived beside my shop where I work at, so every day I was able to check in on him and help him and bring him food. He loved cheeseburgers and milkshakes,” Payne said.

During that friendship, Payne says Parker would speak of his time of service in the Marines.

“He actually told me that he was in Vietnam and he got shot in the arm. That one arm was longer than the other one because he had got shot when he was over in the war,” he said.

Among those attending Monday’s service were retired military, as well as local law enforcement and first responders