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Press Release
February 06, 2008
Military Funeral honors group of 35 veterans in Salem
 
Ore. -- The Oregon National Guard hosted a ceremony to pay respects to a number of veterans at the Salem Armory in Salem, Ore., on Feb. 6, 2008.

The Oregon National Guard Military Funeral Honors Team joined representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, and leaders of the Oregon National Guard for the 30-minute, indoor ceremony.

The event was the first of several "mass-honors" ceremonies planned throughout Oregon to honor veterans who may have not received a full-military honors funeral at the time of their internment. Today's ceremony in Salem honored 35 individuals, who were members of various branches of the military, including the U.S. Coast Guard, and Oregon National Guard.

The Salem event was attended by Brig. Gen. Charles Yriarte, Commander of the 82 Brigade Troop Command, Oregon Army National Guard Chaplain, John Dinsmore, 20 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3965 and Jim Willis, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.

Willis said the ceremonies are important because they not only honor the service and sacrifice of the military member, but also help bring closure to the families.

"This really says, especially to their families, that no matter how long since the member's passing, that they are not forgotten by their country and their fellow service members," Willis said.

Future events will continue throughout the state in order to honor those who, for whatever reason, did not receive military honors at the time of their funeral, he added.

Willis explained that the idea for the ceremonies came as a result of increasing conversations family members had with Soldiers in the Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors Team. Many told them they appreciated the level of reverence given to the deceased at a particular funeral, but added they didn't remember their own family member having received anything like it.

After further investigation, the team learned that in fact, many Oregonians who served during WWII, the Vietnam and Korea conflicts, and up through the Iraq War had been interred without a full military funeral, Willis said.

"Geographically around the state we're reaching out to people of all military branches, and letting them know how much we appreciate the service and sacrifice of their loved ones," Willis said.

After an invocation by Chaplain Dinsmore, and speeches given by Yriarte, Willis and representatives from the VFW, members of the Funeral Honors Team entered the hall. Sgt. 1st Class John Skelton read the names and branch of service for each of the 35 individuals before three other Funeral Honors Team members fired a 21-gun rifle salute just outside the building.

About 25 family members sat silently in the audience as a lone bugler played TAPS, and the Honors Team unfurled, then folded a U.S. flag.

The Patriot Guard Riders, an organization which provides support and funeral escort duties for service members--many of whom are military veterans themselves--ringed the auditorium, holding American flags. According to the Salem Chapter's president, Bryan Loun, originally joined the group through an affiliation with his motorcycle club.

"We feel they all need to be honored," Loun said about the events. "This feels right, and personally, I don't think there's any other place I'd rather be."

Patriot Guard Rider, Dennis Reynolds, served three tours in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, said it's gratifying to him to support military members, and being at the event was an honor.

"A lot of us are veterans, and we feel like others who have served our country deserve our respect," Reynolds said. "This is our way to showing that respect."

Future ceremonies are open to the public. Family members, friends, and fellow veterans are encouraged to attend.

For more information, and a schedule of upcoming events, contact the Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office.


Photos:

080206F-1639C-007.JPG: Dennis Reynolds, member of the Salem Chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders, awaits the start of the "Mass Funeral Honors" event at the Salem Armory, in Salem, Ore., Feb. 6, 2008. Similar events are scheduled to be held throughout Oregon in the coming months, to honor military members who may have not received full military funeral honors during their internment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

080206F-1639C-112.JPG: Members of the Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors Team conduct a flag-folding ceremony during the "Mass Funeral Honors" event, while members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3965 (foreground) observe. The event was held at the Salem Armory, in Salem, Ore., Feb. 6, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

080206F-1639C-123.JPG: Members of the Oregon National Guard Funeral Honors Team conduct a flag-folding ceremony during the "Mass Funeral Honors" event, while members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3965 (right) observe. The event was held at the Salem Armory, in Salem, Ore., Feb. 6, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
 
Contact Info:
 
TSgt. Nick Choy
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs
503-584-3887
 
Kay Fristad
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs
503-584-3917