CHICAGO (CBS) — On Wednesday in Elgin, a military funeral with honors will be held for a man most never knew.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole has a look at how the death of John Murphy is resonating with so many.

At an Elgin retirement home, they remember a resident who passed last month.

“Oh I knew John very well,” said Mahmood Kapadia of the River View Rehab Center. “Very friendly, very friendly. We always joked.”

John James Murphy was 71 and served four years as an Air Force sergeant. His discharge papers showed he worked as a jet engine mechanic, earning several medals for his service.

“We always discussed electronic engineering,” Kapadia said.

In the Vietnam War, Murphy spent time in the Philippines, learning the language and used it to entertain nurses on staff in Elgin.

“He would joke with them, talk to them in their language just to make them happy,” said Arshad Rahman of the River View Rehab Center.

When Murphy died from pneumonia,  though he spoke of a daughter, a brother and sister, there were no names or addresses to be contacted.

“There was nothing,” Rahman said.

Elgin funeral home director Daniel Symonds serves in the Army Reserve. He heard of Murphy’s story and volunteered to organize a memorial with military honors.

“He’s a Vietnam veteran and he was forgotten,” Symonds said.

He never expected what happened next. He posted information of Murphy’s service online.

“I had someone from Alabama call me,” Symonds said.

And people nationwide began to respond.

“I had a lady call last night who said I want to come play. I play the flute. I’ll get someone to play the organ,” said the woman.

Now folks from police and fire departments nearby plan to attend his service. Local streets will be blocked off as a motorcade escorts Murphy’s body an hour and a half away to the Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood where he’ll be buried.

“I got a call from a lady who lives way on the west side of Elgin. She said ‘I don’t have a car. I will get on the bus and I will come.'”

All this for man they never knew.

“It’s a beautiful thing. It restores my faith in humanity,” Symonds said.

At the end of the day, this is a story of a community that came together to honor a man who was virtually forgotten.

But forgotten no more.

Services begin Wednesday morning at 9:00 at Elgin’s Symonds-Madison Funeral Home.

Two hours later, the motorcade with his body will travel south to Elwood for his burial.

Vince Gerasole