Group works to honor vet who died of hypothermia inside home

A Vietnam veteran died this week of hypothermia inside the Hazel Park house he was renting.  

The gas was shut off and neighbors were shocked. Now a faithful few are coming forward to make sure John Skelley receives a proper burial.

Skelley's story struck a nerve with many, especially Ron Gilmour and Joe Casimiro from the veterans' support group Hangin With the Heroes.

"It's sad to pass like that, a man alone in his home," said Casimiro.

"We knew as a group we had to do something and do it now," Gilmour added. "We want to raise funds to pay for his funeral if at all possible. We're going to start off with a $300 donation from our funds.

"After that, we want to assist in making sure that John receives the veteran's farewell that he deserves and we're willing to open up our lodge for a wake."

Skelley's daughter Freya Skeener was happy to hear about the assistance. 

"I think that's really cool that people are stepping up to try and help my dad," Skeener said. "It's just crazy that you see a story on the news and other veterans want to jump in and help. I think that's really cool."

The 69-year-old army veteran is survived by his five children, Freya is one of them

FOX 2: "How are the rest of your siblings taking this?"

"Pretty hard," Skinner said. "Because we never really had a close relationship with him, but I hope that he knew we loved him."

Skinner says she lost contact with her father a few years ago when he moved from his apartment after a fire. He left no forwarding address.

She and her sister spent the following years searching for Skelley - only to learn he died alone.

He never met Skinner's three grandchildren.

"It's really hard because my grandma died of cancer too and she never got to meet any of my kids either," Skinner said.

Gilmour wants to make sure no other veteran suffers the same way Skelley did.

"Veterans are a proud group," he said. "They don't want to ask for help. Just get the word out to us, we'll do everything that we can.

"Please don't die home alone frozen. That's the worst possible fate I can think of."

Anyone who would like to show support, you can send a check to the Ferndale Elk's Lodge, 22856 Woodward, 48220. Make sure to put Skelley's name in the memo area of the check.

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