World War II vet receives tombstone 73 years after burial, thanks to cemetery volunteer

2019-02-04T12:32:39+00:00 February 11th, 2018|Export, News, Politics|

After being buried for more than 73 years without a headstone, a World War II veteran has at last received recognition for his time in service, thanks in part to an unpaid cemetery worker 

A self-proclaimed “Miami history freak,” Ronnie Hurwitz spent the last 30 years tending to the 10-acre Miami City Cemetery without pay. He has taken a special interest in keeping the headstones of fallen service members in pristine shape. While cleaning the cemetery, Hurwitz discovered the unmarked grave of John W. Little. 

“It’s completely mind-boggling that he went unnoticed for so long,” said Hurwitz.  

By Jaylin Hawkins
South Florida News Service
@SFNS_News • Facebook • Instagram 

The headstone was revealed on Feb. 8, eight years after Hurwitz made his discovery.

Little, a U.S. Army veteran and Homestead native, was killed in action at 19. He was buried next to his grandparents, but was never given a headstone. Hurwitz said he discovered this while looking through burial records. but wasn’t sure what to do.

“I was complaining to my waitress, a little old lady, about how I couldn’t get a headstone for him,” he said about a chance interaction a few years later. “She told me I needed to contact the family to get something done, so I did.”


Pfc. Little’s cousin, Leonard Mowry receives the flag from an armed forces officer. (Photo credit: Jaylin Hawkins)

He tracked down a blood relative, Leonard Mowry, and contacted the South Dade News Leader, a Homestead-based newspaper.

Staff writer Bob Jensen, a retired Navy commander, relayed the story to the office of Congressman Carlos Curbello, who had the paperwork for a headstone filled out in a week.    

Mowry said he and his family were grateful for the work everyone involved in the process made in providing Little with a headstone 

It is my hope that what has taken place will not end here, but instead, I hope we all make efforts to lend a helping hand to those in need, he said.  

The ceremony included military servicemen who presented the Mowry family with a U.S. flag and a three-volley salute. 

Two of Curbello’s aids, also in attendance, presented the family with a Congressional Record Plaque to commemorate Little and his time in the military. 

“Everything is so self- rewarding, and my main goal has always been to bring awareness to the cemetery and the rich history it holds, Hurwitz said.



The newly revealed headstone for Pfc. John W. Little. (Photo credit: Jaylin Hawkins)