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    West Virginia honor guard reflects on senator’s funeral



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell 

    National Guard Bureau

    FORT SNELLING, Minn. – The West Virginia team that competed during the 2010 Army National Guard’s Honor Guard competition held here this week had two members competing who were chosen to serve during the funeral of this country’s longest serving senator.

    On June 28, Sen. Robert C. Byrd passed away, and Staff Sgt. and Mark Peters, served as a casket guard, while Staff Sgt. Matthew Whitt served as one of the casket team leaders and assisted with the casket guards.

    Peters was responsible protecting the casket during the public viewing.

    “I worked on a 45-man team that rotated two people through every 45 minutes,” he said. “We were there to protect the senator and ensure that no one messed with the flag or tried to dishonor the senator.”

    Whitt, who was recognized with the Army Achievement Medal for his duty during the procession, had two duties.

    “We were tasked with moving the casket, which had arrived on a C-130, to the capital building in Charleston by way of caisson [horse drawn carriage],” he said. “From there we moved it from the capitol building … to prepare it for the memorial service.”

    Both Whitt and Peters have served as honor guard members for numerous processions, but they said this ceremony was like no other.

    “There was a more solemn and honorable feel to this ceremony,” Whitt said. “It was interesting to see the sheer number of people that came out to pay their respects to the senator.”

    “Having multiple presidents there made this a ceremony that I will remember forever,” Peters said. “Watching all of the people, even at three or four in the morning coming out to pay their respects was really a great thing.”

    As they reflected on their service during the ceremony, they said they will remember it forever.

    “I take pride knowing that I was called upon to serve my state in an honorable way,” Whitt said. “This was a once in a lifetime or career opportunity.”



    Date Taken: 09.24.2010
    Date Posted: 09.24.2010 14:08
    Story ID: 56925
    Location: FORT SNELLING, MN, US 

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