FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. — FOX43 is highlighting local veterans and their lives after service in honor of Veteran's Day on Friday, Nov. 11.
Photojournalist Nick Waldner spoke with veterans who serve in the Military Forces Honor Guard, performing a departed soldier's final honors.
Veterans who serve in the Military Forces Honor Guard consider it a privilege to honor fellow soldiers as they are laid to rest.
“I am a disabled veteran," Edwin Miller, who served in Vietnam, said. "I have Parkinson's disease, secondary to my Agent Orange exposure. But I can still do it and, you know, I’m gonna do it. As long as I can.”
“I think about retiring," Russell Boeshore, who served in Korea, said. "But I don’t know. You just get going and you don’t want to give it up.”
Miller has been a volunteer with the Honor Guard for 24 years. Boeshore has served for 27.
The Military Forces Honor Guard travels the area, performing departed soldiers' final honors by playing "Taps" and folding and presenting the flag to the next of kin. They also perform firing party duties and carry the veterans' caskets when able.
“I felt I owed it to my fellow veterans to give them the proper ceremonies that they need,” Donald Haines, who served in Vietnam, said.
Honor Guard volunteers are trained to load and fire the weapons used in the 21-gun salute and properly fold the flag to be presented to the veterans' loved ones.
“It’s touching at times," Boeshore said. "The first time I did it, as soon as I started to give the flag, the woman started to cry. And that was very emotional.”
The Honor Guard also gives three shells from the 21-gun salute to the family after the ceremony.
“Duty, honor, country is what these empty shells mean," Boeshore said. "They’re placed in a bag. The bag is presented to the recipient of the flag.”
The flag and shells are a gift to the family of the deceased, honoring their soldier's service.
“I know how much of a sacrifice it is to do that service and you know, all gave some and some gave all," Miller said. "So I just want everyone to be recognized and I’m very proud to do it.”
The ceremonies hold deep meaning for the families and Honor Guard alike.
“I’m 80 years old and I’ve been doing this for 20 years," Haines said. "I don’t know how long I have left to do this. But we do need volunteers.”