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The price for honor

Caryn Haller

The honor guard for Western Nevada is running low on gas and asking the state for help.

Each year the War Veterans Memorial Association provides full military burial honors for more than 150 veterans at no cost to their families.

The association covers 16 cemeteries from Loyalton, Calif., to Yerington.

“Recently we provided honor funerals at Genoa, Carson City and Fernley in the same day,” said William Irons, commander of the association.

Travel expenses alone cost about $125 per funeral outside of Reno and is paid out of the honor guard veterans’ own pockets.

All the association is asking for is gas money, Irons said. “In two weeks we’re not going to Fernley anymore, where most of our burials are, because we can’t afford to go there.”

The association averages 120 funerals in Fernley per year, said Phil Hutchinson, one of the chaplains for the association.

Letters asking for reimbursement have been sent to Nevada senators, legislators and governor and so far have gone unanswered, Irons said.

“The Nevada senators promised us help 11 years ago when the Fernley Veteran’s Cemetery opened, and again at the last meeting of the veteran’s board we attended seven months ago,” he said.

A traditional military funeral consists of the reading of a eulogy, a prayer, a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and the folding and presentation of the flag.

The veteran’s memorial association consists of 14 men who travel between 30,000 and 40,000 miles a year to render full military honors for their comrades.

“I’m a vet myself and I feel like I’m doing a civic duty serving the people and our comrades,” said Hutchinson.

When the National Guard sends two men out to perform burial services there is no firing squad and they get paid $52 per diem, Irons said. “It looks to me like something could be done to help us out.”

Military services for the Reno Police Department and funeral services at the Indian cemeteries in Carson City and Pyramid Lake are also provided by the volunteer veterans.

The War Veterans Memorial Association of Western Nevada was formally organized in 1983 as a nonprofit organization and is incorporated as such.

This service is available to all veterans at no cost, however, donations are accepted to help defray expenses.

What: Veterans Memorial Association donations

Where: 333 K Street, Sparks, Nev. 89431

Information: Bill Irons 358-4916