A little more than a year ago a group of men who have defined their lives through service to our country, stepped up to serve again. The Payson Military Honor Guard was organized and in October 2005 they received their formal training and recognition.
The PMHG was established to fill the gap created when the Department of Defense instructed local bases to discontinue providing uniformed active duty personnel for funeral details for veterans. The detail included flag presentation, the "Three Rifle Volley" -- often mistakenly referred to as the "21 Gun Salute" -- and the rendering of "Taps."
Wishing to continue this tradition, military retirees and veterans of the Rim Country, with authorization from the DOD, formed the Payson Military Honor Guard.
These volunteers provide their own uniforms, equipment, training and transportation and now perform funeral details, military honors ceremonies, flag raising ceremonies and training for elementary schools.
They volunteer their time, but often spend several hundred dollars to purchase and maintain their uniforms and drive their vehicles to assignments, purchasing their own gas. The unit is developing a squad for the Three Rifle Volley. In order to create the squad, M-1 rifles must be acquired, along with blank ammunition and uniforms must be purchase with the attendant costs of shipping and alterations.
In late April a fund-raiser was held for the group and enough money was raised to purchase the flags to be used at graveside services and other ceremonies. They purchased U.S. flags, Missing in Action/Prisoner of War flags and the flag of each branch of the military, according to Col. Art Stone, USAF (ret.).
The group has also ordered the guns for the Three Rifle Volley squad, which will be trained by Maj. Phil Prince, USMC (ret.), who is conducting the flag training.
Approximately 25 residents are part of the PMHG and they will soon be joined by two retired female members of the USMC, Stone said.
Any veterans interested in participating in the PMHG may contact Stone at (928) 474-9439 or MSgt. Jim Norman, USAF (ret.), at (928) 474-0564. The group meets the first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. in the American Legion Hall, 709 E. Highway 260.
The public's assistance with the organization's expenses is appreciated. Call the above numbers for details on how to help.