Longmont VFW turns over coffin with skeletal remains

LONGMONT, Colo. - The Boulder County Coroner's Office is investigating old skeletal remains that officials with the Longmont Veterans of Foreign Wars have turned over to authorities.

Longmont Cmdr. Jeff Satur says the remains appear to be between 100 and 200 years old. The VFW told 7NEWS the bones were kept in a handmade pine coffin used to honor past veterans during ceremonies held by the Last Man's Club.

VFW Cmdr. Cliff Elrod said they believe the bones came from a founder of the club who went on an archeological dig in either eastern Colorado or western Kansas.

"We got a coffin, we put them in there and we’ve been honoring them ever since," Elrod said.

The "Last Man's Club" is no longer officially recognized through the VFW. However, post 2601 continued the club.

"I believe it started back in WWI, a bunch of gentleman, veterans got together and got a set of bones that they honored, and they formed a club with a bottle of wine in the coffin. Whoever was the last man to die, drank the wine before he died," Elrod said.

The club meets once a year in April for a large dinner and honors those before them.

"When we leave we salute the veteran, then the next April we do it all over again," Elrod said. "We toast the veterans that have passed before us, then we disband, then next April we do it all over again."

The founders of the Longmont club have all died, but there are stories about who the bones belong to.

"One story was it was a cowboy, one was story was it was an Indian and then one story was they were animal bones," Quartermaster Jim Mauck said.

The bones have been kept in the basement of the VFW for decades until now. The September floods destroyed the basement and ruined the coffin.

"We had to put the bones all in plastic because they were getting moldy, then we wrapped them up in plastic and handed them over to the Boulder County investigator," Elrod said.

The veterans had no idea the bones made be historical until they started making calls to see if a funeral home would cremate the bones. They were told they couldn't cremate the remains until they had an identification. The VFW is still waiting for the coroner's office to identify the bones.

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