EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF) — If you’ve been to a military funeral, you were probably impressed with the work of the honor guard.
They are the nameless individuals who fired the 21 gun salute and performed taps on the bugle.
This Honor Guard is made up of members of American Legion Post 95 in East Ridge.
Day in and day out, they make a tough job look easy.
And, don’t forget they are not paid.
“We try not to turn down any funeral, no matter where its at,” says Larry Palmer, Commander at Post 95 of the American Legion.
Larry Palmer, like all the members, served in the military. He was in the U.S. Navy.
“I saw the need for a member to be on the rifle team, for the honor guard and I joined it..even though I was still working. I had a very flexible work schedule, so I took my lunch hour to go and do funerals,” Palmer adds.
Each member has a personal story.
“I joined the army, when I was 17, and spent 3 years in there and a tour in Vietnam, 71, 72. That’s about my military experience, I was door gunner on a helicopter,” says Honor Guard member Ron Tatum.
“The reason I joined the honor guard was to thank the families of the deceased. Let them know how much we appreciate the service they rendered to country. I feel like I’m free today because of their service,” explains Honor Guard member Jim Grisard.
Another member of the Honor Guard, David Broyles, says, “They invited me to join and it so happened at the time I was qualified to join. So I joined up, the old saying goes ‘I thought I’d get a little bit involved and I saw honor guard and I’m always one to smell gun powder’.”
Honor Guard member Dennis Tallent also looks to the future.
“I hope that younger people that are coming back from over in Desert Storm and places like that -that they show interest and want to pick up what we’re doing,” Tallent says.
Sometimes, the members of the honor guard also pay a price to do this much-needed service.
“I had a stroke 5 years ago and a year later I fell and broke my hip at the cemetery performing a funeral. It was snowy and raining,” recalls Honor Guard Bugler Larry Jeffery.
America’s debt to its military veterans can never be repaid, but with the help of volunteers like these, it may be one of the best ways to say–thank you for your service.
Bill Mitchell, News 12 Now.