SYMRNA, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thrift shop owner Shawn Pullen collects all sorts of things for his store. After buying a storage unit in Symrna, he found his most valuable piece yet.
"There was a flag and his ashes," said Pullen.
The ashes and flag belonged to Navy Veteran Ryan Newcomb. Ryan worked as a nuclear engineer in the Navy but was honorably discharged after a brain injury. Ryan died in 2017.
For three months, his flag and ashes were on display at "S & J Variety Store" in Lafayette.
"I felt he spent too long being secluded," said Pullen, "This way he was out and people saw him and I would say hi to him almost every day when I walked through the door."
Customers were intrigued by the discovery. After learning Ryan's funeral home was in Louisiana, a customer also from Louisiana decided to reach out. They were able to track down Ryan's younger brother, Chris Newcomb, all the way in Denver, Colorado.
"I never expected to have his remains again," said Chris Newcomb, "It wasn't something expected. I thought they were with his widow."
Chris explains that the ashes and flag were left with Ryan's widow. They have not been in contact since Ryan's passing. Chris is grateful Shawn found his brother's remains. Shawn shipped the flag and ashes to Chris Friday. It arrived in Denver on Monday.
"He's coming back to where there are people who are going to care for him and not left in a storage unit. I can spread his ashes in places we used to frequent, that's a tremendous gift to us all," said Chris.
Although Ryan's ashes are gone, Shawn did keep his flag box. Shawn does not plan to sell it and instead, will keep it on display in his store.