GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) It's been around as long as recorded history and is a sacred tradition. They aren't there for recognition or to put on a show for the public. It's something so steeped in history and valor, many of us just can't understand what it truly means to be an Honor Guard. "No matter how many times I hear it, we're honoring our departed comrade, and we lost another comrade," says Bob Henderson, Commander of the Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard.
"The biggest thing that gets to me most of the time is when taps goes off, well you know, that's the last thing you're going to hear," says Art Edwards, Western Slope Assistant State Captain with the Patriot Guard Riders.
The U.S. military Honor Guard started in the Revolutionary War.
"We take pride in what we do," says Henderson. Henderson
has done roughly 1,300 military funerals. "It's people getting together from all walks of life and we all have one thing in common, and that's the military." The Honor Guard are all volunteers. "All of our members of the Honor Guard are so proud to be in the Honor Guard, and they have one reason for it, and that's to provide honors," continues Henderson. And they show up, even if no one else does. "There's times that we give the honors to nobody else here but us; they may not have any family whatsoever, but we do come out and provide honors to these individuals."
"It affects everybody a little bit different. There are times when you shed a tear for them every now and then," says Edwards, who has done 810 services. "We're here to show our respect to those that have fallen, and to let the families know that there are still people that care for them," he says. Vietnam vets may have not been welcomed home then, but they will now. "They didn't get a welcome home, and that's why we're doing this, and just like this young man here. We don't know whether he had a good welcome home or not, but he knew that when he went home he did," explains Edwards.
"I've done two for family since I've come on the Honor Guard within two months of each other, and those were pretty rough times," says Specialist Mike Rathbone with the Colorado Army National Guard Honor Guard. Rathbone has done nearly 200 services. "You just try to stay out of it and show no emotion." There are no sick days. "I get to provide the last military honors for that person, and I think that's a huge respect, and I think everybody in the military should give it one shot," he says.
The job comes with an enormous amount of pressure. "Giving the last respects, because one little mess-up and that's in their mind for the rest of their lives," says Rathbone. But the job also comes with a commitment to excellence. "That's the last memory you have of that person, and I want it to be perfect."
That is the epitome of Duty, Honor, and Country. "Even if I wasn't getting paid, I'd still be out here and still be doing this, because it's the greatest job you could ever have."
And for those who fought, and died for our freedom; their final welcome home deserves nothing less.
KKCO would like to thank the U.S. Army National Guard Honor Guard, Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard, and Patriot Guard Riders for allowing us to join them for a service. We'd also like to thank the family as well and offer our condolences.
The Honor Guard does accept donations and is always looking for new members. Hopefully now next time you see a military service, you understand it's true meaning.
For more information on the Honor Guard, or to request them for a service, call (970) 234-0980. All members of the Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard are volunteers and veterans of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard.
Bill Davis, a Grand Junction resident and veteran, also joins the Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard, U.S. Army National Guard Honor Guard, and Patriot Guard Riders for military funerals with the Veteran's Memorial Bell. Davis, a U.S. Army and Navy veteran, has found a way to remember his fellow veterans and their families for their sacrifices on behalf of the United States of America. Davis tolls a 1,100 pound bell at Veteran's committal services and other veteran's events; a practice that has become his avocation. Davis does this upon request of a deceased veteran's family, without reward or compensation, and asks only that you think of our veterans, both living and dead, who answered their country's call.
There is no cost for the Bell Ceremony. However, donations are accepted. Donations may be made through any Vectra Bank, or...
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