FORT HOOD, Texas – Death is a fact of life and a grim reality,
especially for those who make a living defending this country.
Rendering military funeral honors has come to be a time-honored
tradition and a way for the nation to show its gratitude to the
deceased service member.
Soldiers assigned to the battalions
of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team “Black Jack,” 1st Cavalry Division
have been given the privilege of providing military funeral honors
to retired and active duty Soldiers who have passed away in the
Central Texas area, but it's not easy.
Soldiers assigned to Company D, 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion,
2nd Brigade Combat Team,1st Cavalry Division, fold the flag during
rehearsal for a military honors funeral at Ft. Hood, TX on July 23,
2014. (U.S. Army
photo by Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover, 2nd BCT PAO)
Not only are the Soldiers under immense pressure to get
every step, every movement right, but they must also
maintain their bearing even through the onslaught of
The team of eight Soldiers practiced
non-stop for three weeks before their first rendering of
honors, said Spc. Brandon Lewis, a
member of the honors team assigned to 8th Brigade Engineer
“I wanted to make sure my team understood
that what we're doing really means something to the
families,” said Staff Sgt. Angelo Mupo who serves as the
noncommissioned officer in charge of the team from Company
D, 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “It's more than just us.
It's about showing the proper respect to the families and
the Soldier we are honoring.”
The members of the
funeral detail take pride in what they do to honor the
memory of those who have passed on.
It is such a
great honor to provide this service to those who have served
and to show the proper appreciation for what they have done,
said Lewis, a native of Anaheim, California.
the major difficulties of rendering funeral honors is
keeping emotions in check.
Mupo said being on the
team is really hard. The team members feel at least some of
what the family members are feeling, but must still perform
the steps stoically and precisely.
Mupo said the
hardest part is presenting the flag to the family member.
“I remember one of my first funerals in particular,”
said Mupo, a native of Atlanta. “I got down on my knee to
present the flag to the spouse. I looked into her eyes, and
the words wouldn't come out. She looked at me and said,
‘It's okay, son.' It was almost as if she was presenting the
flag to me. I stood up with tears running down my face,
saluted the flag, and stepped off.”
“I think the
first ones are always the hardest. It was really hard to see
the family's emotions,” said Spc. Nicholas Sandy of
Hartford, Connecticut, a member of the honors team assigned
to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 5th
Mupo said although the ceremonies
can be emotionally draining, it is very gratifying to
perform the service, and the team members learn to control
their emotions and execute precisely with time and practice.
After all, the families deserve at least that much.
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover
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