Volunteer Firefighters Honor Guard conducts Memorial Day ceremony

By Jessica Johnson

May 25, 2014

The Surry County Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard conducted a Memorial Day Service in Dobson on Saturday morning, lowering the flag to half mast and honoring the fallen men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

The Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard was assisted by the Ashe County Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard, Sgt. Kevin Pace with the National Guard who played “Taps” on the bugle, the Surry Central JROTC Saber Guard, members of the VFW, members of Dobson Fire Department, and representation from the Dobson Police Department and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. Also in attendance was Dobson Mayor Ricky Draughn and Dobson Town Commissioner Bob Comer.

Paul Senter, who serves as commander for the Surry County Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard, shared that they were formed about a year ago, comprised of members from the volunteer firefighters throughout the county — both men and women. The group can represent the volunteer fire departments at funerals and ceremonial events such as Saturday’s Memorial Day service.

“We are here to serve the community, the firefighters, and their families,” Senter described. “We can also help other entities and organizations, such as the VFW and if the Mount Airy Fire Department’s Honor Guard needed help, we could assist them as well.”

One of the duties the Honor Guard performs is services at funerals. For example, if a family member has a firefighter in their family die, the Honor Guard could assist with the funeral service, performing casket duty by guarding the casket and/or flag-folding ceremonies at the graveside. They also can help with military funerals.

Senter shared that they are working on a saber detail, so they will be able to assist with firefighters’ weddings in the future.

The services they offer are free of charge. Donations are accepted, which are used to keep uniforms intact.

Last Memorial Day, the Surry County Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard assisted the Honor Guards in Ashe and Alleghany County with a Memorial Day Service, so Senter said he wanted to have a service in Surry County this year, one that would become an annual tradition.

“We are a group of firefighters who come together to serve. We want to represent the community’s fire service on a united front.”

Many of those who serve in the Honor Guard have prior military service backgrounds. Senter served as a former First Lieutenant in the Air Force and others in the Honor Guard are former Navy and Army, so “drill and ceremonies” is something they are used to. Military experience is not required though, Senter assured, just a call to help the community, and, of course, serving as a volunteer firefighter in one of the 19 volunteer fire departments in Surry County.

For more information about the Surry County Volunteer Firefighter Honor Guard, and/or to request their services, call Paul Senter at 336-466-1751.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.