Man travels thousands of miles to honor his late father in special ceremony

KENT, Wash.  -- A Wisconsin man traveled nearly 2,000 miles to say goodbye to a father he lost touch with nearly 30 years ago.

At a ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery, Stacey Mia had the chance to honor his father, Army Sgt. James Mia.

James Mia has been buried at Tahoma National Cemetery since 2000; Stacey last spoke to him nearly 30 years ago.

At the ceremony, there was a 21-gun salute to honor James Mia, a soldier who served in the Army from 1946 to 1970. During that time, James served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

“I’ve been waiting for this, I really have,” said Stacey Mia, 57, of Wisconsin. “I’ve always loved him, always.”

At the age of 5, Stacey lost contact with his dad when his parents split up. Decades later, in 1988, Stacey tracked his dad down in Tacoma and reconnected.

“It was bitter sweet but he was still drinking and was blaming my mother. So I cut the relationship off at that time,” said Stacey Mia.

In 2007, Stacey found out his dad had died seven years earlier and he never got to say goodbye.

Since then, Stacey has been trying to visit him at Tahoma National Cemetery and pay his respects.

“I’ve lost all of my immediate family, my father being one of them so for me it’s like finally I get closure on this,” said Stacey.

Lon Hodge is with Operation Fetch, a group that performs community kindness for people around the country. On Wednesday, they helped Stacey get that closure by flying him out to Washington and surprising him with a ceremony just for his dad.

“We knew Stacey and Stacey’s dedication to military and commitment to all this for years so we said it’s time to give back to Stacey," said Lon Hodge, with Operation Fetch.

It was a surprise ceremony for Stacey to remember his father.

“I didn’t even expect this. All of this is about closure now and this is what I’m going to carry on what my father would want. The military was his family I know that now, it doesn’t matter because I’ve always loved him,” added Stacey Mia.

For a few minutes it was a special moment for a man to honor his father, and for a son to finally say goodbye.