A hero finally came home this week, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Colorado native Ryan Newcomb suffered a brain injury while serving his country in the Navy as a nuclear engineer, and later died in 2017 at the age of 42, KMGH reported. His brother, Chris, assumed that his brother’s remains had been cared for by his widow.
But instead, they were in a storage unit in Smyrna, Tennessee, the contents of which were purchased this year by Shawn Pullen, who operates the S&J Variety Store in Lafayette, Tennessee, WTVF reported.
“There was a flag and his ashes,” Pullen said, adding that although he was unsure what to do with the flag and ashes, he knew they could not remain forgotten.
“I took and put a table up in the front of my store and made a memorial. I had his military flag and had his ashes sitting on a table so when you walked in my store that was the first thing you saw,” Pullen said.
“I felt he spent too long being secluded,” said Pullen, “This way he was out and people saw him and I would say hi to him almost every day when I walked through the door.”
Eventually, a customer knew how to unravel the mystery.
“They located the funeral home in Metairie (Louisiana) I had went thru. The funeral home contacted me,” Chris Newcomb said. “Thank goodness a man like Shawn found these.”
Pullen simply noted it was “pretty cool for it to all happen for the way it did.”
Chris Newcomb, who lives in Longmont, Colorado, said the exchange showed the kindness that exists and is too often overshadowed by the wrongs of the world.
“I mean, it just helps to reassure you that there are good people out in the world,” he told WZTV.
“I’m so grateful. Grateful beyond words. Words don’t suffice,” he said.
“I never expected to have his remains again. It wasn’t something expected.”
Ryan Newcomb’s ashes arrived in Denver on Monday.
“I can spread his ashes in places we used to frequent, that’s a tremendous gift to us all,” Chris Newcomb said.
“We’ll continue to go there as a family, know we’ll know he’s there as well and that he’s finally able to rest,” he said. “Now he surrounds us with love.”
Pullen said that he is keeping the box that held Ryan Newcomb’s flag. It won’t be for sale, but on display as a memory of his role in helping a hero come home.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.