"So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them."
For a group of Veteran Elks this belief rings so true. In 1999 at the urging of Veterans Committee chair Wayne Nunnenkamp, Exalted Ruler Bob Walker requested volunteers from Burien Elks Lodge 2143 to form an Honor Guard to assist the Tahoma National Cemetery with Interment Services honoring our departed Veterans. There was considerable interest, and with the assistance of Chairman Nunnenkamp and the DAV they began. The mission of Burien Elks Honor Guard is to provide a dignified and gracious service for those who served this Country and have passed on and for their families. On October 29, 1999, the Honor Guard conducted their first Interment Service at Tahoma National Cemetery.
The group provides Interment Services at Tahoma National Cemetery, as one of several V.S.O. (Veterans Service Organizations). Interment Services at the National Cemetery are not funerals. Rather the Honor Guard accepts the remains on behalf of the National Cemetery. The service includes words from the unit Chaplain and the proper military component. Uniformed members of the deceased Veterans branch of service partake in the folding of the Flag. The Honor Guard provides a rifle salute and a bugler to blows taps. Shell casings from the salute and a folded Flag are presented to the family of the deceased Veteran. All this is done to honor an American Hero and welcome him or her to their final resting place.
On a normal day at Tahoma National Cemetery generally includes the accepting of up to 12 Veterans, plus additional services which require only the chaplain. This service much like their service to this Country happens in all weather. This group of Elks do this on a voluntary basis not for the praise but rather for the gratitude knowing that they provided an American Hero and their family the respect and honor they deserved for serving this Country.
The chartering members of the Honor Guard are Bob Walker, PER, Elmer Stinson, John Cassias, Adel Cassias, Don Bock, Charles True, Fred Martin, and Frank Junell. Over the history of the Honor Guard there has been over 50 members of Burien Elks Lodge 2143 and other lodges in the Puget Sound area who have participated on the Honor Guard. Currently the Burien Elks Veterans Honor Guard is composed of the following Elks from the Puget Sound area.
Members of the Burien Elks Veterans Honor Guard
Bob Walker, PER – originator
Melinda Anderson, PER
Lisa Carter, PER
Ed Carter, PER, Squad Captain
Jerry Graff, PER
Stephen Heitman, PER
Joe Peluso, Tacoma Lodge 174
John Robinson, PER
Jay Thompson, PER
The Burien Elks Honor Guard also provides other services to the community through its members working with Boy Scouts and Girls Scout units teaching Flag etiquette, ritual services, Memorial day service, and other Veterans programing when called upon. The members of Burien Elks Honor Guard work tirelessly to see that no Veteran, living, or deceased is ever forgotten.
Through funds from friends, supporters, and a grant from Friends of the NRA the Honor Guard procured the above ceremonial rifles