World War II ended 73 years ago, but the people in the village of Southend-on-Sea in Essex, England, have not forgotten.
When World War II Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran Leonard John King passed away in Southend-On-Sea at the age of 94, it quickly became clear that he had outlived all of his loved ones, friends, and family members. There was no one left to mourn his loss, to grieve his departure, or to honor the service he’d given during the long years he spent with the No. 23 Squadron of the RAF.
During the war, Leonard, or “Jason” as he preferred to be called, was a devoted soldier who sacrificed his own freedom to help liberate Europe from the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Japan. Jason’s squadron was instrumental in attacking German bombers by night as they returned to their airfields in France.
When his caretaker organized a funeral service at Southend Crematorium, they quickly realized that there would be no attendees due to Jason’s advanced age. That’s when the SSAFA, a charity that provides lifelong support for England’s armed forces and their families, stepped in.
The message was shared on both Twitter and Facebook. Unsure if anyone would heed their call to honor and celebrate the hero’s life and sacrifice, the SSAFA was surprised when they saw that the social posts quickly went viral.
Still, retweeting is easy… would anyone show up? Organizers were touched when hundreds of people turned out to honor Jason at his funeral service.
Attendees ranged from current and former military service personnel and civilians, all of whom took a few hours from their busy lives to reflect on the life and service of one man — whom none of them knew.
To all of our veterans around the world, thank you. We haven’t forgotten your sacrifice, and we mourn the loss of each and every one of you, during war times and in times of peace.
Thank you, to each and every citizen who came out to honor Jason.
Watch the brief video of the veteran’s procession into the funeral home below, and be sure to share to thank a servicemember today.
Thanks to everyone who shared the appeal for people to attend the funeral service of 94-year-old RAF veteran Leonard John King who passed away without any close friends or family. This video from Heather Strachan-Clark shows that there was a huge turnout.
Posted by Southend-on-Sea on Tuesday, April 10, 2018