The Payson Military Honor Guard is asking members of the military in the Rim Country — active duty, reserves and retired — to volunteer for another solemn duty.
The Honor Guard is in need of members. Most currently serving with the group, which was organized in 2006, are in their upper 70s, so there is a need for younger veterans and service members to learn the ropes in order to provide an important duty at the funerals of veterans.
“We really do understand volunteerism,” said Ken Caldwell, who is one of the Honor Guard’s members.
“We work around people’s schedules and commitments. Our only requirement is that our volunteers have honorably served with one branch of the military, including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.”
Caldwell said about half the current 30 members did one or more hitches in the service and the other half are retirees. The group also has members who reside in the area on a part-time basis.
“It isn’t necessary for a volunteer to fit into their old uniforms, though some members are able to and wear them at the funerals,” Caldwell said.
The Honor Guard uniform is provided, at no charge, to those members who don’t want to wear their old uniform or can’t. Training is also provided to the volunteers.
There are usually eight to 12 members of the Honor Guard at funerals and then as many as are available at various special functions it attends, such as the Veterans and Memorial Day services presented by the town’s Patriotic Events Committee and programs at the schools.
“We are probably the most active Honor Guard in the state,” Caldwell said.
It serves the communities of the Rim Country from Tonto Basin to Heber and Pine-Strawberry. He said the group provided services at about 50 funerals in 2011.
“The families are so appreciative of what we do,” he said.
To learn more, call Caldwell at (928) 472-4371 or Kim at (928) 468-8249.
The group meets once a month at 5:15 p.m. on the first Tuesday at the American Legion Post.