An area honor guard that helps pay tribute to some of our nation’s heroes is issuing a plea for volunteers.
“Honor guard” members are part of a group that pays respects during funeral services for veterans and military service members.
“A veteran only gets one service at his burial,” said Carter County Honor Guard Commander Kelly Greene, “we need to make it the very best we can.”
The Carter County Honor Guard only has six people right now. Two of them are Junior ROTC students that will leave the group at the end of the summer.
Volunteer Robert Vance enjoys the ability to give back to those who gave so much.
“I have not regretted it,” he said. “I drive from Bristol [and] help with every service. Rain, snow, sleet or hail, we’re here.”
The Carter County Honor Guard has been operating for nearly 30 years and enlists its services seven days a week, all year long. Sometimes, the group holds two services a day.
On Friday, the group was at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City holding two services.
So far this year, the honor guard has put on more than 100 services.
“We are doing our best to give that family that last moment of pause before they say goodbye to their loved one,” said civilian representative Eric Montgomery.
Commander Kelly Greene answered a similar call for volunteers nearly five years ago.
“I’m blessed really, because I get to serve that veteran cause he served us,” said Greene.
Montgomery volunteers to honor his family, particularly his great uncle Amin Isbir, who was killed on D-Day.
“They’re like my great uncles,” he said, “my uncles, my grandfathers that served in World War II and I look at them as brothers in that regard.”
However, Greene is asking fellow retired veterans to step up and serve with the guard.
“We need help bad,” he said. “Sometimes, all we’ve had is three people and one of them has had to dawn their weapon and come help carry a casket or something.”
“Right now, we’re so short handed,” said Vance, “I do double duty.”
Whether it is folding flags or firing rifles, the Carter County Honor Guard hopes others will answer the call to serve their fellow veterans.
“If we don’t get help by the end of this month,” said Greene, “the four of us, we’re not going to be able to continue on.”
The group is looking for retired veterans who want to help out with services or serve in the role as chaplain.
If you are interested, you can contact Kelly Greene at (423) 895-3819 or you can send a message to the Carter County Honor Guard’s Facebook page.