A 91-year-old World War II Navy veteran — who had been homeless for part of her life — was laid to rest Tuesday among an unexpected crowd.
Though Serina Vine had no known living relatives, and attendance was sparse early in her funeral ceremony, word had spread on social media about the woman who used to work in radio intelligence and spoke three languages, the Free Lance-Star reported.
Crowds of bikers and retired and active service members — who didn’t know Vine — showed up to her service. By the end of the funeral, about 200 people had gathered at Quantico National Cemetery, the Free Lance-Star said.
"We serve together, so therefore we should not die alone,” said retired Marine William Jones, of Spotsylvania County. Jones was quoting Army Maj. Jaspen Boothe, an advocate for homeless women veterans, who spoke at the funeral.
Jones had helped organize the funeral, the Free Lance-Star reported. But he had expected to be among only four attending.
At age 20, Vine joined the U.S. Navy, after her father had served in World War I, according to her obituary. She served in the radio intelligence division from November 26, 1944 to August 7, 1946.
Upon returning from her tour of service, Vine attended the University of California-Berkeley, where she graduated with a degree in General Studies.
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Later in life, her health deteriorated and she moved into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in D.C. She lived there for 20 years, until her death on May 21, 2016. She had no children and was never married.
The hundreds of attendees at the funeral came to express their condolences and offer respect to the fallen veteran.
A few did have a connection to Vine. Martin Fuller, a field examiner from the VA Medical Center, told the Free Lance-Star that Vine was a “very caring and lovely person” who “never gave anybody a hard time.”
All photos: Dave Ellis / The Free Lance-Star