|From The Oregonian oregonlive.com
Public invited to Tuesday funeral for indigent vet, Gordon Leingang
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:07 PM Updated: Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:24 PM
By Mike Francis, The Oregonian
The Patriot Guard Riders will stand in for the family of Air Force veteran Gordon Jay Leingang at a funeral at Willamette National Cemetery Tuesday at 1 p.m. Leingang died April 27 at Adventist Medical Center at the age of 58, leaving no known family members. His last address was at the Best Value Inns Motel on Southeast 82nd Avenue.
Erin Phelps, the owner and funeral director of Southeast Portland's Omega Funeral & Cremation Service, said he was able to trace Leingang's military service because he had a card in his wallet from the Department of Veterans Affairs. By calling the VA, Phelps said he was able to confirm that Leingang served in Air Force beginning around 1971, that he was honorably discharged and had a service-connected disability.
The state pays $650 to funeral homes to bury the indigent, an amount sufficient to pay for cremation in most cases, Phelps said. But Leingang had an almost illegible address book that listed his religious preference as Judaism.
"I could not, in good conscience, cremate him," said Phelps. Jewish teaching holds that the dead are to be buried in the earth.
The military honors service is open to the public.