News: 82nd Sustainment Brigade Honor Guard never leaves a soldier behind
Story by Sgt. Amanda Tucker
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - I came back from a deployment ready to take on the world, but my whole world came crashing down when I received the late-night call telling me my mother was dying. I could not accept that this strong woman, soldier and mother could be defeated by death so young.
I was still in shock the day of her funeral. It felt like I was watching the proceedings through glass. Each family member expressing their condolences felt like a stranger. As everyone took their seats, the funeral home started to play the music that represented my mother’s life.
The funeral home’s music ended and the entire event came into sharp focus when I saw them. I swear that every eye gazed at their crisp uniforms and shiny brass as they folded the flag draping my mother’s casket. I looked into the eye of a soldier as he knelt to present me the flag and I cried the first tears in the three days since my mother’s death.
This is what the 82nd Sustainment Brigade Honor Guard faces every day. Surrounded by mourning mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children, they represent everything the military stands for as they present the flag, salute the family, fire 21 rounds and play the bugle to "Taps’" tune.
“It’s something we are honored to do for our fallen comrades,” said Sgt. Christopher Moore, squad leader for the 82nd Sustainment Brigade Honor Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Special Troops Battalion, and Madison Heights, Va., native. “It’s something we are honored to do for those that have paved the way for us.”
The honor platoon supports soldiers killed in action, retirees and all Army veterans in support of the Fort Bragg North Carolina Casualty Assistance Center. They provide services to 100 counties and have traveled more than 400 miles to support one funeral.
“I think it’s a great honor,” said Spc. Ronnie Taylor, a soldier with Honor Platoon, and Greenville, Tenn., native. “It lets the family know that we are still involved and I think the family really appreciates us out there.”
Sheryl Radcliff, wife to the late Lee Radcliff, thanked the honor guard in a hand written note.
“Everyone was so impressed at the respect and dignity they showed,” stated Radcliff. “Our family and friends commented on how professional they were. I’m sure Lee is resting in peace because his wish for a military funeral was fulfilled.”
Every honor guard soldier is responsible for maintaining their dress uniforms. They have to dry-clean their uniforms after every ceremony and re-measure their awards and decorations. These requirements enable the honor guard soldiers to react quickly to requests within times as short as two hours.
“This is a privilege,” said Moore. “These soldiers have to be well-rounded, highly motivated and able to perform their duties at a moment’s notice.”
The 82nd Sustainment Brigade Honor Guard provides an irreplaceable service to soldiers and their families. They show the families that a soldier is never forgotten and is never left behind.