Dedicated Saratoga National honor guard brings respect to deceased veterans, needs new bus

June 11, 2019 07:21 PM

STILLWATER - They're the unsung heroes of the Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. With 115 volunteers strong, their service to their country didn't end when they were honorably discharged.

They may not be as fast as they were when they were soldiers or sailors decades ago, but their commitment to their brothers and sisters is as strong as it ever was.

"We love to be here," said Don Boone, the guard's vice commander-elect and a member for four years.

The local guard is an exception to the rule, one of a just a few national cemeteries with a full-time volunteer honor guard.

The members range in age from 62 to 93.

They want other veterans to join their ranks, volunteering one day each week to give others the burial they deserve.

It's not easy finding veterans to fill the shoes of an aging guard, but they promise it'll be rewarding.

"If you want that same kind of camaraderie and satisfaction that you had when you were in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, wherever you were at, you can have it here with us," said Al Poole of Glenville, the guard's commander-elect.

They're here in any weather. With up to 13 burials a day, it requires a fair amount of walking. These days, there's more walking than usual. The bus that transports them to the ceremonies and provides their shelter in extreme weather has had it.

"The frame is rusted out of it. It's inoperable. We've actually just parked it at the location because you can't drive it. It needs to be scrapped for metal," said Scott Lamb, director of the cemetery.

Even though this dedicated group of veterans needs some help with some new wheels, they're not slowing down in their commitment to pay the respect worthy of those who served.

"When I landed at San Francisco International, and I had my fatigues on coming back from Vietnam, people didn't really like me. So now what I'm trying do is say, 'Know what guys, I like you,'" said Poole. "That's what it's all about. The veterans are the veterans. And that's what we do, we support them, someday maybe they'll support me."

The Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new bus.

MORE INFORMATION: GoFundMe: Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard


Mark Mulholland

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