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N.C. Waffle House waitress arranges veteran’s burial in National Cemetery

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Two weeks ago, Air Force veteran Mike Pardalis died of a heart attack in his van in Concord, N.C. His body was taken to a local hospital morgue; but no one came.

For nearly two weeks, no one came to claim his remains, no one made plans for his burial, no one was there to pick out a headstone. Apparently no one cared.

That is until Mandi Gardner, Mike’s long-time waitress at a nearby Waffle House, figured out that the veteran had no one in his life, and now in his death, to help.

Gardner went public and organized a fundraiser hoping for enough money to claim the veteran's body and provide a dignified memorial service. But in doing so, citizens came forward with information on how the military would help with funeral expenses and a plot at the National Cemetery in Salisbury.

The kindness of others brought in more than $2,000; money that Gardner will likely donate now to an organization for veterans or to help military families.

With the full military honors bestowed on a veteran honorably discharged, Mike Pardalis will be laid to rest Wednesday, April 30, at 11 a.m. at the Salisbury National Cemetery.

The public is encouraged to attend.

Examiner’s Note: When the military Honor Guard presents the flag following the burial, one hopes that Mandi Gardner will be the recipient. There was no information on Pardalis’ age, area of operation when he served, or indication that he had any family, either living or dead. Thank you for your service, Mike.

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