Lt. Col. Gene Allen and Commander of the Hunt County Disabled American Veterans Jerry Malone, demonstrate how to fold the American flag at the front of the DAV’s main conference room Thursday afternoon. Members of the DAV are currently organizing an Honor Guard program, which would provide military honors for the families of deceased Veterans in Hunt County. Allen and Malone are both veterans of the United States Army and both have served in Honor Guards in the past.

After the American flag is removed from the coffin, the flag is folded by two members of an Honor Guard and presented to the next-of-kin. Riflemen fire three rounds of volleys. “Taps” can be heard in the distance. Then a final salute is given in honor of the deceased veteran.

This honor is reserved for those who served their country, and the solace is for the living.

Members of the Hunt County Disabled American Veterans are currently organizing an Honor Guard program for deceased military men or women in Hunt County. Malone estimates that there are 7,500 veterans in Hunt County and close to 100 service organizations in the country.

“Our purpose is to provide military honors for the families of deceased veterans, and to provide flag service for nursing homes, public buildings and other events,” said DAV Commander Jerry Malone. “There is currently no Honor Guard program in Hunt County, and this program has been in the making for a long time.

“Jay Arlien Butler, Commander of the Northeast Texas Veterans Coalition, was the first to see the need for a local Honor Guard,” Malone continued. “Since I had previously served in Honor Guard funerals with the American Volunteer Reserve, I proposed to the DAV members an organizational concept. DAV Adjutant Bill Price and Vice Commander Gene Allen continued to actively construct the Guards readiness as we search for new and younger members.”

Members of the DAV are inviting veterans of all ages and experiences to join the program.

“It’s not limited to just the DAV members,” Allen said. “We want to leave it open so that any Hunt County veteran can join the Honor Guard.”

Malone is also hoping to get the younger veterans, such as the Iraqi and Persian Gulf veterans, to join the Honor Guard.

“Technically, you’re supposed to be a veteran to participate in a military funeral,” Malone said. “However, the active military people are over-stressed and over-committed so that it’s almost impossible to get a military funeral in Hunt County.

“And if you do get a military funeral, they send a minimum of two or three people, and that’s what you call a half service. We’re going to do the whole, full protocol, which involves taking the flag from the casket, folding it, presenting it to the family and having at least one rifle fire.”

The DAV members plan to start the program next month, but they are currently seeking more volunteers.

“We now have six volunteers, but to do a full protocol it would take about 20 people,” Malone said. “Sometimes, you only have a day or two notice, so it’s hard to get enough people together. That’s why I would like to have the Iraqi and Persian Gulf veterans become involved.”

“The reason to start an Honor Guard in Hunt County is primarily tradition. The reason why I wanted to start one bleeds over into my life, and this gave me a sense of purpose that I was lacking.

“It’s at the top of our list to get the Honor Guard going, and I think it will serve the community and help the chapter.

“My mission is to serve the veterans in the community, and it all intertwines with the DAV and the Honor Guard. It all goes back to the honorable traditions of our forefathers.”

The DAV is hosting an open house with activities and a workshop on Feb. 24 from 1 to 5 p.m.

For information, contact Jerry Malone at the DAV headquarters at 2502 Church St. or call 903 883 4571.

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