By Capt. Matthew BoyleNovember 19, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - Under current federal funding the North Carolina Army National Guard's Military Funeral Honors (NCARNG MFH) budget will be exhausted in February 2015. Officials are working plans to receive additional funding to continue supporting Funeral Honor requests through the year.
"We are working with the National Guard Bureau to secure funding for this fiscal year. They are working in the interest of all 54 states and territories to find funding", said Lt. Col. Maury Williams, the deputy director, J9 (Soldier & Airman Support Services) "We are hopeful that these funding issues will be resolved soon because we have yet to have a request go unfulfilled, and we intend on keeping it that way."
The NCARNG MFH program provides a two Soldier detail for veterans and full military honors for currently serving, or retired service members. From Murphy to Manteo, serving every county in the state, the NCARNG MFH program provides a world-class service for the veterans.
Despite the heat, humidity, cold, wind, rain and the snow, all of the somber choreography is made to look effortless. All the associated tasks that mark the mission complete must be perfect, because Soldiers know the purpose of this mission; ensure a fallen veteran receives Military Funeral Honors. Whether buried while witnessed by a grieving family or with no next of kin attending, each veteran is entitled to their honors; promised by a grateful nation and written into law by congress. The law was passed so that we may never forget the sacrifice made by all who choose to wear the uniform.
This is the mission of N.C. Army National Guard's Military Funeral Honors program, and this is the mission of their Soldiers.
"The Army National Guard always goes above and beyond to make sure everything is done the correct way from the time the casket or urn is removed from the hearse to when it is buried," said Will Staton, funeral director at Powles Funeral Home in Rowan County. "We have never had any issues at a service with the way that the Army National Guard handles themselves with the deceased and the families. They are always professional and compassionate. Their uniforms are always pressed and spotless, the flag is always folded perfectly, nothing is ever out of place."
"During hurricane warnings and snow storms, while you are with your family at Christmas our teams are still serving our fallen," said Staff Sgt. Richard Bagley, NCARNG MFH non-commissioned officer in charge. "Every day of the year, no matter the weather our teams are providing honors to North Carolina citizens. On Veteran's Day, we conducted 14 services in 14 different counties."
Last year, the NCARNG MFH program provided honors for 3,422 veterans who were current or former members of the military.
"This is a 'Total Force' mission," said Bagley. "The Military Funeral Honors program provides honors for all branches of service, not just the Army. We work with the Air Force, the Navy, Marines and active Army at Fort Bragg to ensure every authorized request for military honors is fulfilled."