“Honor our flag, honor our veterans, honor the people that have been killed and wounded and lost during combat.”
Words Roger Gardner has not only chosen to live by but has made it his mission to share.
At 89-years-young, Gardner has seen a lot and has done even more… humbly.
“I’m honored to do what I did and I’m glad I was able to come home safe and sound.”
He graduated from Warren Harding in 1948 and enlisted in the Army. He was soon sent to Germany where he spent four years.
“I was in Artillery Unit 115. I was quad leader while I was there, sergeant first class when I came back.”
But, that was really just the start of Gardner’s military career.
“Came back from overseas in 1952 and enlisted in the National Guard and I went another, well, 32 years in the National Guard. I had a total of 36 and a half years of active duty. Met an awful lot of super, super good people, and in Post 540 it’s the exact same thing, just an awesome group of guys.”
An awesome group lead by one dedicated man. Gardner serves as the commander and captain of American Legion Post 540 Honor Guard.
In this role, he spends 30 hours a week, if not more, conducting military funeral services.
“Our funeral detail has performed 3,400 and some funerals in the last 17 years. I have more than 10,000 hours of volunteer time.”
Gardner says if it wasn’t for this group, or the wives who support them, none of this would be possible.
“They do an awful lot for the veterans in the area and there’s an awful lot of posts around — the American Legion, VFW — that support our veterans and they’re just good organizations and the veterans need and deserve all the support we can give them.”