Honor Guard salutes fallen veterans

Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Honor Guard salutes fallen veterans + Enlarge
U.S. Army National Guard Spec. Kevin Matthews plays ?Taps? at a service in Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery. IC photo/Christine Young

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Owen and Specialists Josh Wardle and Kevin Matthews served as the honor guard for their comrade Michael John Buckley, Jr., at his gravesite in Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery Feb. 11.

Buckley died Feb. 9, 2012. He served as first lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. He was a member of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Midvale.

The primary role for honor guards in the United States is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades and to guard national monuments. An honor guard may also display and escort the national flag on ceremonial occasions at official state functions. Honor guards also serve in the civilian world for fallen police officers and other civil servants.

Wardle has been in the Army National Guard for three years and works full-time providing funeral honors for fallen comrades.

"Five years ago the Congress passed a new law that every veteran who served will receive honors, so we receive requests from funeral homes, friends and families regarding their service," he said. "We come to the gravesite to hold the flag, present it to the family and play ?Taps.'"

The deceased veteran's length of service determines what honor guard is present at his or her funeral.

Those who have served less than 20 years will get a three-soldier detail, somebody who served 20 years or more will get a nine-soldier detail and those killed in action or in the line of duty death will receive a 21-soldier detail and include the 21-gun salute. Buckley received a three-soldier detail, which consisted of a flag folding presentation and ?Taps.'"

The official honor guard of every branch of the U.S. military is based in Washington, D.C., though nearly every military installation will have its own honor guard for local ceremonies and events.

"The honor guard ceremony means a great deal to the families," said Wardle. "Most of the time they are very happy with our service; they are honored we were there to honor their family member. Many times the veteran served before he had a family and may have served only three years because of the draft. This was a part of their life that the family didn't know much about, so they are usually pretty excited to see us at the gravesite."

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