October 23, 2008

Military Funeral Honors Program honors fallen Soldiers

By Sgt. Jesse L. Houk
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Spc. Philip J. Reddick, Sgt. Stephen G. Glass, and Pfc. Harold A. Good operate as one team in the completion of the flag folding procedure. The Soldiers are a part of the Virginia Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Program. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

 

 
Sgt. 1st Class Richard A. Carr, Jr. plays “Taps” in preparation of a funeral. He is a part of the Military Funeral Honors Program, which provides funeral services to all servicemembers. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
 
Sgt. Stephen G. Glass (left) and Spc. Philip J. Reddick (right), of the Virginia Guard's Military Funeral Honors Program, begin to fold a flag in preparation for a funeral service. The funeral service was to honor former Virginia Guardsman Jason Maxey. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
 
Sgt. Jason T. Cain, Sgt. 1st Class Karl D. Kleinhenz, Spc. Brandon M. Cole, and Sgt. Troy R. Sisson stand at attention during a funeral service.  The Soldiers are a part of the Military Funeral Honors Program. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

BEDFORD, Va. — The sound of a bugle and the crack of 21 rounds being fired from the rifles of Soldiers in their dress blues pierced the silence of a remote farm located near Bedford, Va. Oct. 19 in memory of a fallen Soldier.

The former Virginia Army National Guardsman being honored was Jason Maxey.  Maxey lived a life of service to his country and that included careers in the Guard, the Navy and as a police officer in the Rocky Mount Police Department.

“Anyone who wears the uniform should have the privilege and the right to have this honor,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard A. Carr Jr., readiness NCO of the 29th Army Band.

The honor he referred to is the funeral detail service offered by the Virginia Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Program. The program is operated by retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert W. Huffman.

The Military Funeral Honors Program is a service that provides funeral details for all Army veterans and present and past National Guard members.

Each Soldier that is a part of the program goes through an intricate screening process because of the high visibility of the position and the serious nature of the service provided.

“I would say we all take it serious and we recruit people who are serious because we want to give each fallen comrade and their families the respect that they deserve,” said Sgt. Stephen G. Glass, noncommissioned officer in charge for the Roanoke Military Funeral Honors Team.

That respect for the ones left behind leads to the high level of professionalism within the program. Soldiers are trained to perform to the standard of the Arlington National Cemetery.

The program’s five teams are located in Gate City, Roanoke, Fort Pickett, Petersburg and Fort A.P. Hill and its service extends throughout the entire commonwealth of Virginia. 

Soldiers involved in the program view their position as much more than just an occupation. They see their participation in the funeral service as something they can do to pay tribute to the families and friends of the fallen.

“You look at some of the faces of the family members who lost loved ones and you see yourself, you see your family and that makes you want it to be as close to perfect as possible,” said Spc. Philip J. Reddick, noncommissioned officer in charge for the Petersburg Military Funeral Honors Team.

Although the names of the fallen and the faces of the families change, one thing is sure- the Military Honors team will always be available to pay one lasting tribute.

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