FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Unclaimed veterans were laid to rest Friday at the Fort Smith National Cemetery thanks to a project called Missing in America Recovery Project for Veterans.

Richard Espy served in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East.

“These are our brothers and sisters in arms,” he said Friday.

Espy is one of several veterans who helped lay to rest five unclaimed veterans in Fort Smith.

“There’s a special place in our heart for them and it’s great to give them the honor that they deserve,” he said.

Lori Holden helped present the colors at Friday’s ceremony.

“It’s such an honor,” Holden said. “It gives me absolute chills.”

Veteran Joe Robine took the role of a pallbearer.

“The emotions, they start overrunning when you see all these people come out and honor the forgotten,” he said. “It really touches a spot that doesn’t get touched very often.”

Gina Gustafson with Missing in America helps identify the veterans in local coroner’s offices, some of whom have been there for decades.

“It’s so important to remember the veterans and get them what they were promised when they signed up,” she said. “An honorable burial.”

Laying those unclaimed veterans to rest with a proper burial is even more poignant for the vets who came out Friday — when they see the people who come to watch it happen.

“It means a lot to them,” Espy said. “And therefore it means a lot to us.”

“They finally get the place they’ve worked so hard for in their military careers,” Robine said. “They get to lay to rest knowing who they are.”

Missing in America will host a poker run on Saturday to raise money to find more unclaimed veterans around Arkansas and Oklahoma.