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This decorated Vietnam vet died in 2016. He’s finally getting a proper burial

UPDATE: VA officials were able to locate next of kin for Master Sgt. Enrique Castro. Family members have shared that the ashes found in the storage facility were only a portion of Castro's remains, the rest of which are in the family's possession. Family has requested his remains be sent to them in Texas where he can be interred at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. Master Sgt. Castro was recognized during the Memorial Day parade in Dearborn, but he will receive military honors in Texas. His anticipated burial date will be later in 2022.


It’s not where you’d expect to find the final resting place of a decorated Vietnam veteran: tucked away on a dark shelf inside a storage unit in Cadillac, Michigan. But when James Weir won the storage unit in an auction early this year, that’s where he found the ashes of Master Sgt. Enrique Leonardo Castro. 

Weir reached out to Arlington National Cemetery to see if Castro’s ashes could be interred there but was told a family member had to apply. An effort to find living relatives came up short, but Weir wouldn’t stop there.

He contacted his legislators for help and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency was alerted to the situation. MVAA Director Zaneta Adams contacted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Cemetery Administration to assist. 

Military records show Castro was born in 1950 in San Antonio and joined the Army in 1968. A Special Forces soldier based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he would see combat in Vietnam – earning the prestigious Legion of Merit and Bronze Star medals. Castro would ultimately spend 25 years in the Army, retiring in 1993. He died in 2016 at age 66.

The collaborative effort to get Master Sgt. Castro a proper burial would prove successful when the VA confirmed recently that he is eligible for burial in any national cemetery with available space based on his honorable discharge records. 

Stephen Fletcher, assistant state coordinator for the Michigan Chapter of the Missing in America Project, says Master Sgt. Castro was honored with a ceremony by the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council during the Memorial Day parade in Dearborn.

Castro’s story earned national recognition in February at the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) Conference, where VA Secretary Denis McDonough applauded the efforts in a speech. 

“After years of sitting on that shelf in a dark empty storage unit, Enrique is well on his way to his final resting place, on his way home, likely to one of our national cemeteries where he’ll be interred with the honors he deserves,” McDonough said. 

“That may seem like a small thing to some, but we all know it’s not. That’s what our partnership is all about, getting the job done for veterans.”


Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the Armed Forces as well as veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of the national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. For more information on burial benefits and resources, visit