Honor Guard gives veterans services that they deserve

Published 9:26 am Friday, December 26, 2014

NW1226 Honor Guard D 4x5C

The Carter County Honor Guard has been a county fixture for more than 60 years, and thanks to new volunteers, the group’s future appears to be solid.
The Honor Guard is made up of volunteers who have answered their own call of duty to make sure the veterans of the county receive a proper funeral and burial in recognition of their service to their country.
The Carter County Honor Guard provides military honors at veterans funerals and conducts military based services as schools, church and other community meetings places.
While the honor guard has an all-time high of 14 members, in September the group was facing the possibility of having to disband because of low membership.
“We were down to just four members,” member Ken Nidiffer said. “We just couldn’t do it with that.”
Once word got out that the Honor Guard needed new members, the group received multiple applications and was able to continue.
“If we hadn’t gotten those folks when we did, we would have had to call it quits,” Nidiffer said. “We are up to 14. That is the most we have ever had.”
Now with a full slate of members, the Honor Guard is able to continue with the services the group provides.
The Honor Guard performs military honors at funerals, including a three-round rifle volley, playing Taps and presenting a folded American flag to the veteran’s family. On occasion, the guard has served as pall bearers for the fallen veterans when no one else was available to do the task.
“Whatever the family requests, we do it if we can,” Nidiffer said. “All veterans, especially those who have seen combat, deserve a service that recognizes their fight and effort to defend our country.”
In addition to the funeral service, the honor guard performs in ceremonies at the Elizabethton War Memorial and in military programs at schools and churches.
Nidiffer noted that all of their services are provided free of charge and the Honor Guard is run completely on donations. He added anyone can be a volunteer in the Honor Guard; volunteers do not have to be veterans.
“They do not have to be a veteran, but it helps,” he said. ”Right now, we have one that is not a veteran.”
The Honor Guard operates strictly on donations. Nidiffer said the American Legion and the Disabled Veterans of America regularly contribute to the group. The rest of their funding comes from individual contributions.
“It does cost quite a bit to operate,” Nidiffer said. “Our insurance is more than $100 a month. Uniforms aren’t cheap. Then there is fuel and other items we need.”
To volunteer for the Carter County Honor Guard call Nidiffer at 474-3160 or to make a donation contact Albert Harrison at 542-8064.

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