Coronavirus: Ashes of Montana veteran found after being lost in mail for months

BILLINGS, Mont. — The remains of a Vietnam veteran who died of the coronavirus have been returned to his family after his ashes were lost in the mail for two months.

Don Tyler, of Billings, died of COVID-19 on March 19 while visiting Spain, KTVQ reported. His wife, Christine Tyler decided to have his body cremated and flown home, but the late veteran's ashes were lost at one of three U.S. Postal facilities in Chicago, the television station reported.

Getting Don Tyler’s cremains out of Spain was complicated because the country was a flashpoint for the coronavirus.

"He stayed at the mortuary for almost a month before he was moved to the fleet post office in Rota, Spain," Christine Tyler told KTVQ.

Then, the Air Force veteran’s remains were lost once they got to the United States. Montana’s two U.S. senators, Steve Daines and Jon Tester, were contacted and were able to track down Don Tyler’s remains.

"I'm glad to have played a part in locating Mr. Tyler's remains. My prayers go out to Christine and the rest of her family as they mourn the loss of Mr. Tyler," Daines told MTN News.

Christine Tyler said the cremains were located in a corner of a Postal Service facility in Chicago.

"It's rather some payback I think, he used to makes his sisters squat in the corner when they were naughty," Tyler told KTVQ in a Facebook message.

Christine Tyler said Daines called her Saturday.

"I got a call from Sen. Daines and their office is going to handle all the arrangements for the burial honors on the 31st," Tyler told KTVQ. " One more thing off my plate."

In an email, Tester’s office wrote that “After a push from our office, the USPS located the urn and it’s on its way to Billings.”

While Christine Tyler was glad to finally get her husband’s remains, she said that the loss should not have happened.

"No veteran should be treated this way, number one," Christine Tyler told KTVQ. "No remains of anyone should be treated like this, number two.

“And I am willing to do whatever it takes to see that that changes.”

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