Deceased veteran's ashes get shotgun salute sendoff

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Walter "Jim" Hosey went out with a bang.

Several of them, actually.

The Vietnam War Army veteran from LaVerkin who died Jan. 2 received a sendoff from family members and friends Saturday at the Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range in Hurricane where he had spent so much of his life.

In addition to an American Legion rifle salute, taps and the honorary presentation of the American flag to Hosey's son Clint and daughters Emerald and Heidi, Hosey received a special kind of tribute in keeping with his personality — Clint loaded 50, 12-gauge shotgun shells with his father's ashes and fired them off with the help of relatives and friends.

"I think he got a kick out of that," Clint said, acknowledging that he was holding up well, but eventually realization of the family's loss "gets real."

"It's the first time for me that a veteran's or an individual's ashes were made into ammunition and then fired through a shotgun," Spilsbury funeral director Mark Heiner said after the ceremony. "But it's a fitting tribute to the way he lived."

Heiner said Hosey was cremated Wednesday and the ashes were divided into two groups. One was for the tribute Saturday, the other will be saved in an urn for a private family service at a later date.

Friends and family of Walter Hosey, who died Jan. 2, pay their respects at the Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range on Jan. 9.

Photo Credit: Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News

More than 100 people gathered for Saturday's event, and many took a moment to offer condolences and a few shared memories with Hosey's children.

Clint said his father didn't talk much about his service in Vietnam, and Hosey didn't even bring the medals he'd received home with him when he returned from overseas.

Instead, he concentrated on enjoying each day, and part of that included shooting guns.

"As soon as I could hold a pellet gun up, I was learning to shoot," said Clint, who lives in Cedar City. "Dad was always looking for a good time."

Long before the county shooting park existed, Hosey was out in the area playing with hand-thrown clay targets, sometimes shooting one-handed, his friend Kenny Canfield said.

"He was one of those kind of guys that, if you was having a bad day shooting and he was shooting with you, he would just cheer you right up," Canfield said. "And if he was shooting good and you were shooting bad, he would start shooting bad. ... He was a character."

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