Oklahoma community members come together to replace veteran’s vandalized headstone

Local

MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – More than 50 years after his death, a group of strangers came together to replace a Moore veteran’s headstone after it was found vandalized. 

Every cemetery is filled with stories.

Few know them better than Jeanie Sisson.

“There’s a Find a Grave website, and so there’s some photo requests,” Sisson said. “So I decided to answer some of those requests – take pictures for people that live out of state or somewhere and can’t take their own pictures.”

She’s now added a brand new beautiful headstone to her collection – but it took some time and work.

While taking photos at the Moore Cemetery several months ago, she noticed the one that was once in its place had been destroyed.

Wayman Batey vandalized stone

“It was just in the ground, you know, broken up and even at some point it was in a puddle of water and that just kind of broke my heart to look at that and to see, you know, what bad shape it was in for anyone, but especially for a veteran,” Sisson said.

That veteran was World War II soldier, Wayman Cohen Batey.

Sisson asked and was told it’s the family’s responsibility to take care of it.

But Batey had died in 1967 – and more than 50 years later, his family couldn’t be found.

So she turned to Cleveland County Veterans Coordinator Charlie Neely.

“I have helped families get headstones, but it’s usually men right after the veteran was recently deceased,” Neely said. “So it’s usually an expedited process. I’d never had one in this situation before.”

This situation did take longer – months longer and a community effort – but it was worth it.

Wayman Batey new stone

“Jeannie alerting me to this really shows that there’s some true patriots out there that really care about the sacrifices that were made,” said Neely. 

“Like everyone else, I’m appreciative of his service in the military, and we’re so glad that he could be recognized and that his stone is here to honor him,” Sisson said. 

Neely filed the replacement paperwork with the National Cemetery Association.

Moore Custom Monuments placed the headstone free of charge in honor of Batey.

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