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Donel C. Kinnard Military Cemetery seeking volunteers for honor guard

The honor ceremony performed for military veterans at funeral services is the final ‘thank you’ for their service, but one local honor guard is in need of volunteers to make those services available for families in the Kanawha Valley. (WCHS/WVAH)

The honor ceremony performed for military veterans at funeral services is the final ‘thank you’ for their service, but one local honor guard is in need of volunteers to make those services available for families in the Kanawha Valley.

At the Donel C. Kinnard Military Ceremony in Dunbar, the honor guard is there for every veteran funeral and has done the ceremony with as little as seven people. But in order to continue honoring their fellow veterans, they need several more volunteers.

"We hope the family realizes the importance of that veteran's dedication to his country and the service to his country,” honor guard president Don Ryan said.

Every time a fellow veteran is buried at the Donel C. Kinnard Cemetery in Dunbar, they are honored with a 21-rifle salute, taps, and presentation of the flag,

"Every time a family member comes up to us after the service and thanks us for what we did. that is a touching thing and it's also appreciated that somebody appreciates what we did,” Ryan said.

But that’s not why Ryan and his fellow honor guard members do it. They do it for people like Allan McVey.

"My brother, Robert McVey, who actually had been in the Air Force, he was a sergeant and passed away last October unexpectedly,” McVey said.

After the 21-gun salute, McVey remembers Ryan placing three shells in his hand.

"I actually broke down when they did that and even when I think about it, it's just a very emotional thing,” McVey said.

The cemetery’s honor guard tries to maintain at least 21 members, but lost two members recently, and with some in poor health, it’s getting harder to do.

"To lose one obviously affects all of us, but we all realizes that we're up there in age and the time is going to come when we pass on,” Ryan said.

Whether it’s every day or just one a month.

"We try as hard as we can to get guys to come out so we can give veterans the full honors that they deserve."

To volunteer, you must have been honorable discharged from the military. Volunteers don’t have to be available for all services. Ryan said any amount of time helps. Some volunteers helps just once a month while others help once a week.

For more information, visit the honor guard's website here or contact Don Ryan at 304-546-0996.

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