I learned of Chief Hannah from Neptunus Lex. I thought the word should get out, and I’m using Lex’s own words, he’s better at it than I am.
John D. Hannah served his country honorably. Retired as a senior chief petty officer. Went back home to Illinois
His wife died, he took it hard. Dropped out of life as it is normally lived. Helped out at with chores at a homeless shelter in Detroit, in exchange for a vinyl mat to sleep on. Smoked, got lung cancer, died. Utterly alone, and unclaimed:
His body lies alone in a cooled room in the Gates of Heaven Funeral Home in Detroit, thanks to the grace of its 66-year-old owner, Joseph Norris, who said, “My heart told me I had to do this.”
Norris is keeping Hannah unburied, in a donated coffin, until someone from his family, some brother, sister, child, uncle, cousin — even a friend — comes forward to say they knew him.
For two weeks, no one has, despite Hannah’s years of service in the Navy, despite an honorable discharge, despite calls and a letter to the U.S. Military Retirement Pay Division. Bureaucracy and privacy concerns (ironic for a man whom no one has claimed) bog down the process.
Meanwhile, Hannah’s corpse remains unvisited. Surely, there is someone reading this who knew him? A man can’t simply die in the state where he was raised, in the city where he lived and have no one to stand by his coffin, can he?
I don’t think I ever met him. But somebody did. Maybe not you, shipmates. But maybe someone you knew. Or someone they knew.
Someone who can help. Ask around.
UPDATE: They located Senior Chief John Hannah’s brother, and are working on arranging a proper burial at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.