Remains of Mont. veteran who died from coronavirus lost in mail for months

Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus (May 2020)

BILLINGS, Mont. (KTVQ/CNN) - The remains of a Vietnam veteran who died in Spain from what officials said was COVID-19 have been shipped to his wife in Montana after they got lost in the mail.

Christine Tyler lost her husband, 69-year-old Donald ‘Don’ Tyler, to COVID-19 in March. The two had been on a trip in Spain for their 41st anniversary when the Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam became ill, later dying in the intensive care unit at a Spanish hospital.

Christine Tyler managed to leave the country just as the virus was forcing countries to close borders and opted to have her husband cremated. She wanted the cremains handled with military tradition and honors.

However, the journey home got complicated.

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

Donald ‘Don’ Tyler, 69, served in the Air Force in Vietnam then made police work his career, serving in federal law enforcement in Wisconsin.
Donald ‘Don’ Tyler, 69, served in the Air Force in Vietnam then made police work his career, serving in federal law enforcement in Wisconsin. (Source: Christine Tyler/KTVQ/CNN)

From there, the cremains were sent to Dulles, then Chicago, but once they reached Chicago, they got lost in the mail for more than two months.

The remains were located Saturday morning in the back corner of a Postal Service center in Chicago. They were shipped to Christine Tyler in time for planned burial honors on May 31.

"No veteran should be treated this way, No. 1. No cremains of anyone should be treated like this, No. 2,” Christine Tyler said.

The offices of Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, a Republican and Democrat, respectively, were notified about the lost remains, and both played a part in locating them. Daines’ office also helped handle the burial arrangements.

Copyright 2020 KTVQ, Christine Tyler via CNN. All rights reserved.