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|Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors Team Close to Record Year|
|News Releases - Military & Veterans News|
|Written by 1st Lt. Dutch Grove|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 08:16|
SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/09/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors team is training and certifying 13 new team members at Camp Lincoln in Springfield Aug. 4 to 10.
During fiscal year 2012, which ends Sept. 30, the funerals and honors team has supported 3,078 funerals, just 224 funerals shy of the most ever.
The six funeral and honors offices in Illinois have 63 Soldiers and Airmen assigned and have supported an average of 288 funerals per month over the last two fiscal years.
Staff Sgt. Brandon Page of Marion, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry in Marion and a funerals and honors instructor said the teams work between 60 and 70 hours per week. The majority of that time is spent preparing their uniforms, practicing flag folding and other drill and ceremony tasks.
"We're the last group of Soldiers the family of a fallen servicemember may see for the rest of their life and we have to leave a positive, lasting impression," said Page.
Page volunteered for the funerals and honors team nearly three years ago. He previously served in the active Army when he witnessed his platoon sergeant die from an improvised explosive device during a deployment to Iraq.
"When you go to war and see people killed, you also see the devastating effect on the family. We have to work hard and put in the hours to ensure every move is perfect during the service," said Page.
The state trainers must complete an 80-hour course at the Professional Education Center at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Ark. The course has a 91 percent pass rate, but Illinois National Guard servicemembers have a 100 percent pass rate.
Pfc. Keith Robinson of Chicago with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry in Chicago will be certified at the end of the course and said his motivation is simple, "to give respect to the fallen."
PHOTO 1: U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Dutch Grove Illinois National Guard Public Affairs/ Sgt. Ryan Melvin, of Carthage, assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Macomb and Pfc. Keith Robinson of Chicago with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 178th Infantry in Chicago rehearse rendering military honors during the funeral and honors certification course at Camp Lincoln in Springfield Aug. 8. The Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors team expects to support more funerals this fiscal year than it ever has in its existence.
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