Honor guards need help to give military funerals

News

MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) — Veterans could use your help to give their bretheren a proper military funeral. Honor guards give them that last honor, but it takes money to do it.

“This is another way that I can serve my country,” said Bud Hooser, Mahomet American Legion Post 1015. He got out of the Marine Corps in 1961, but he wasn’t done serving yet. He’s been an active member of Mahomet American Legion Post 1015 for more than 20 years.

“Probably the most important part is we do military funerals,” said Hooser.

But sending a veteran off in style can be expensive. Hooser said there’s a good reason for that.

“The military all look alike,” he said. “The Marines look Marines, the Air Force look like Air Force. When I first came to Mahomet, we furnished our own uniforms. We’d just buy our own trousers, some of them would be dark blue, some of them would be blue, and you just didn’t look like a military organization.”

The cost of a uniform racks up. A short-sleeve shirt runs between $40-$50, while a long-sleeve shirt is $65-$75. Trousers range between $50-$60, and a lightweight jacket costs between $40-$50. Plus there are the caps and gloves, both lightweight and winter.

“It runs a little over $1,500 a person,” said Hooser.

That’s not counting the WWII Winchester Rifles they use for the 21 Gun Salute: $3,000 each.

“And these guys give up their time,” said Hooser. “And time is money.”

Money the post gets from Operation Honor Guard allows them to buy items that need replacing. The gear can get worn out because of the number of funerals they do each year.

“We’re probably in the 20 or so, and right now, of course it’s WWII veterans and Korea veterans are the primary ones that are passing on,” said Hooser. But that’s just Mahomet. Posts with more members may do upwards of 100 funerals a year. It’s a big price for honor guards, to guard a priceless honor for those who served our country.

“God creates them, and they’re willing to lay down their life for their countrymen,” said Hooser.

WCIA will hold its annual Operation Honor Guard Fundraiser on Wednesday, October 2. The goal is to raise $140,000.

Drop off locations include:

Hall of Fame Plaques and Sign Shop, 3550 N. Vermilion St., Danville
WCIA Back Parking Lot, 509 S. Neil St., Champaign
Sunset-Urbas Funeral Chapel, 414 S. State St., Westville
Napleton’s Auto Park of Urbana, 1111 Napleton Way, Urbana
Family Video, 301 E. Champaign Ave., Rantoul
Family Video, 909 Lincoln Ave., Charleston
Consolidated Communications, 121 S. 17th St., Mattoon
Sav-Mor Pharmacy, 104 E. Southline, Tuscola
Big R Store, 1200 E. Walnut St., Watseka
Dawson Wikoff, North Chapel 4020 Water St., Decatur
Williamson Airsman Hires Funeral Home, 1405 Lincoln Ave., Jacksonville

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