About 100 people attended the event Sunday afternoon where the dedication of the funeral squad was recognized. The squad was formed in 1988 and served at 736 funerals as of December 2012.
Tim David, co-chairman of the appreciation day, along with fellow Marine Corps League member Gene Bosworth, said, “It is not the easiest thing in the world to get everyone out there and do what they do,” of the funeral squad’s service to fellow veterans.
Bosworth said, “They have served this country, they have served their community and now they serve veterans in their finest hour.”
James Rink Jr., a funeral squad member and former squad leader, said families appreciate the squad’s service, which includes firing three-shot volleys from M1 Garand rifles.
“They really appreciate it,” he said. “The come up and give us a hug. They can’t thank us enough. They even give us donations, but we don’t charge any money whatsoever because this is all volunteers.”
Rink estimated the squad spends about two hours to perform their role in a funeral service.
“It is the last thing we can do for our veterans,” he said.
William “Ken” Macy, squad commander, said the group gets little recognition for performing no matter the weather conditions.
Other squad officers are D.J. Fangue, secretary and treasurer; and Tena Stratton, chaplain.
The open house and appreciation day at the Patterson post started 11 years ago as a way to bring military families together during the first Gulf war, David said.
Two St. Mary Parish soldiers lost their lives in that war: 1st Sgt. Michael Bordelon and Sgt. Brandon Lee Teeters. They were remembered Sunday with a display of their photographs.
Bill Goessl, past commander of the St. Mary detachment, said in an earlier interview, “Kind of the way this started … during Operation Desert Storm, there were so many young guys from the area in the service that the parents could almost pass another parent in the grocery store and not even know that their son or daughter was in the service or stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan or Kuwait or wherever they were. This is a chance for the families to get together.”
The day includes all branches of the military.
Veterans organizations participating include the Marine Corps League, American Legion Post 96, American Legion Post 242, American Legion Post 589 and VFW Oil Center Post 4222.
East St. Mary Veterans Funeral Squad members are Calvin Alfred Donald Grayson, William Macey, Jesse Reynaud Jr., Jimmy Richard Sr., James Rink Jr., Don Tellman, and Joe Vidos, all of Morgan City; Joseph Boersma, Drouis J. Fanguy, Grace Fanguy, Hilliard Smith Jr., and Tena Stratton, all of Patterson; Don Campos, Woodrow Carlin, and Ruben Trevino, all of Bayou Vista; Rosemary Lodrigue and Jesse LaRive, both of Berwick; and Wilton Aucoin and Mary Aucoin.