Highland Lakes Honor Guard Needs Members to Give Veterans Final Salutes
MARBLE FALLS — At its peak, the Highland Lakes Honor Guard membership hit about 25, which gave commander Charlie Taylor some flexibility when it came to scheduling events in which the unit participated.
“But now, it’s tougher,” he said. “Our numbers are down.”
Several members have moved or just stepped away from the honor guard due to health or age. This past summer, the Highland Lakes Honor Guard, which has taken part in more than 400 funerals since its inception in 2007, once again had to turn down funerals.
“I just don’t like doing that,” Taylor said. “We want to make sure every veteran gets a funeral with military honors.”
Taylor and other honor guard members are putting out the call for new members. The only criteria is you have to be a military veteran with an honorable discharge (be sure to have your DD214). Though the members are all veterans, the Highland Lakes Honor Guard isn’t directly affiliated with a veterans group such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion.
The need for groups such as the Highland Lakes Honor Guard remains high, especially in the Highland Lakes and Central Texas, which have a large number of veterans and military retirees.
Taylor was a member of an honor guard in Pennsylvania before he moved to the Highland Lakes. A Navy veteran, he struck up a friendship with a World War II Navy veteran. When his friend passed away, Taylor attended the funeral, where three sailors, probably from a Central Texas reserve unit, handled the military honors.
The three sailors folded and presented the flag, which was nice, Taylor said, but he didn’t think they really did a thorough service. Taylor also understood the limitations on area military units for providing funeral service details and the demand on them.
There just wasn’t enough active or reserve military units available to make every veteran’s funeral.
So in 2007, Taylor created the Highland Lakes Honor Guard to help meet that need.
The Highland Lakes Honor Guard provides full military honors complete with a procession, a flag folding (even with a member explaining the significance of each of the 13 folds), a rifle volley, and “Taps.” The service is free.
The guard is also certified by the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct veteran funeral services.
The Highland Lakes Honor Guard participates in other programs, including Veterans Day events and similar ceremonies.
In order to keep things going, Taylor said they need more members.
“It’s been harder to get people interested in doing this, for some reason,” Taylor said, “but we have to try because I think every veteran deserves military honors for their funeral.”
Anyone interested in joining the Highland Lakes Honor Guard may call Taylor at (325) 248-0450. Go to highlandlakeshonorguard.org for more information.
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