Veteran whose final wish granted in Marion, IL has died

Veteran's final wish granted in Marion, IL

MARION, IL (KFVS) - A Marine Corps veteran from Marion, Illinois, whose final wish was granted thanks to hundreds of people, has died.

Walter Vernell Holderfield passed away on Thursday at the Marion VA, surrounded by his family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home. You can click here for details.

According to the Marion VA Medical Center:

"What started as a joke about riding a motorcycle again ended with a joke about going back to college, as Vernell made the decision to donate his body to a local school for research."

Holderfield's final wish was to ride a motorcycle one last time.

Back in February at the Marion VA, he said he was overwhelmed and at a loss for words when he got to feel the wind on his face one last time.

More than 200 bikers and veterans alike fell into formation behind him as he rode through Marion on the back of a motorcycle; something he said he hasn't done in more than a decade.

Holderfield suffered from a terminal respiratory condition.

"There's something special about someone getting to do their last wish," said spectator Sieger Giroux at the event. "Just being able to do what they love, whatever that is. His was getting on a motorcycle, so it was awesome to see him do that."

"I'm very thankful," Holderfield said after his ride. "I'm thankful for the VA and everybody here...for making this possible. That's what the main thing is. Them making it happen for me."

Holderfield has been an avid motorcyclist for most of his life, and the event was planned after he shared with two nurses how much he missed the open road.

Those nurses also gave him a hand-made biker's keychain, according to the VA, which he loved so much he requested to be buried with it.

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