2 DH staffers receive national American Legion award for coverage of 'unclaimed' veterans

  • Elena Ferrarin

    Elena Ferrarin

  • Rick West

    Rick West

  • A mourner salutes Vietnam veteran John James Murphy, who died in January 2020 after living since 2017 at River View Rehab Center in Elgin. After officials were unable to find any family, hundreds of community members turned out to Murphy's funeral at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion.

    A mourner salutes Vietnam veteran John James Murphy, who died in January 2020 after living since 2017 at River View Rehab Center in Elgin. After officials were unable to find any family, hundreds of community members turned out to Murphy's funeral at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County Sheriff's Deputy Susan Deuchler honors Vietnam veteran John James Murphy, who died in January 2020. After officials were unable to find any family, hundreds of community members turned out to Murphy's funeral at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion.

    Kane County Sheriff's Deputy Susan Deuchler honors Vietnam veteran John James Murphy, who died in January 2020. After officials were unable to find any family, hundreds of community members turned out to Murphy's funeral at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Steve Mosias, left, of Palatine and Jim Bethke of Elgin were among those who paid their respects to Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran Stephen Alan Myerson at Laird Funeral Home in Elgin in 2020. Myerson had no known family when he died Sept. 11 at the Citadel Care Center in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion.

    Steve Mosias, left, of Palatine and Jim Bethke of Elgin were among those who paid their respects to Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran Stephen Alan Myerson at Laird Funeral Home in Elgin in 2020. Myerson had no known family when he died Sept. 11 at the Citadel Care Center in Elgin. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Harvest Christian Academy wrestling coach Shawn Ayers, left, brought seven members of his team to attend the funeral for Ronald "Ron" George Olson of Elgin, who served from 1959 to 1961 as an Army combat engineer. Olson had no family so Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin handled the arrangements and invited the community to attend. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion.

    Harvest Christian Academy wrestling coach Shawn Ayers, left, brought seven members of his team to attend the funeral for Ronald "Ron" George Olson of Elgin, who served from 1959 to 1961 as an Army combat engineer. Olson had no family so Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin handled the arrangements and invited the community to attend. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • About 150 people attended the funeral of "unclaimed" veteran Ronald "Ron" George Olson of Elgin at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. Olson, 83, served from 1959 to 1961 as an Army combat engineer with Company C, 34th Engineering Battalion. He had friends, but his only daughter and his son-in-law died before him and no one else stepped forward to organize his funeral, Joy Symonds said. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion.

    About 150 people attended the funeral of "unclaimed" veteran Ronald "Ron" George Olson of Elgin at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. Olson, 83, served from 1959 to 1961 as an Army combat engineer with Company C, 34th Engineering Battalion. He had friends, but his only daughter and his son-in-law died before him and no one else stepped forward to organize his funeral, Joy Symonds said. The Daily Herald's coverage of funerals for "unclaimed" veterans earned The Fourth Estate award from The American Legion. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 5/25/2021 6:28 PM

Decorated Vietnam veteran John James Murphy had no family when he died last year in an Elgin rehab center. But many mourned him because of the work of Daily Herald senior writer Elena Ferrarin and senior multimedia journalist Rick West, who were recognized with a national award by The American Legion.

Ferrarin and West will receive The Fourth Estate Award for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism, The American Legion announced this week. The award will be presented Sept. 2 in Phoenix during The American Legion's national convention.

 

Ferrarin first reported on the "unclaimed" veteran in January 2020 after she was contacted by Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin, which was holding services for Murphy. The Daily Herald story "went viral, resulting in hundreds of people, including many Legionnaires, attending his funeral," The American Legion said in announcing the award.

On the day of the funeral, Ferrarin and West captured in words, photos and video the moving tributes of those who traveled from near and far to pay their respects to Murphy, 71, who was a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1969 and earned several awards, included the Vietnam Service Medal.

"As if this weren't enough, the Daily Herald repeated its fine reporting by telling the stories of other unclaimed veterans and achieved similar results for their funerals," The American Legion said.

"This Daily Herald series represented the finest traditions of journalism and is a perfect example of why The American Legion honors outstanding members of the Fourth Estate."

Other recipients are ABC Action News (WFTS-TV) I-Team in Tampa in the broadcast category for a series on problems with court-ordered guardianships, and Military.com in the online media category for reporting on a Marine Corps proposal to close its recruit depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, and the subsequent backlash.

"We're honored that our coverage has been recognized nationally by an organization as committed to the public welfare as The American Legion," Editor John Lampinen said. "And we're proud to share in that recognition with ABC News in Tampa, Florida, and Military.com."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.