President Obama to honor Fort Snelling rifle squad

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Members of the all-volunteer rifle squad from Fort Snelling will take part in the Memorial Day ceremonies at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Eleven members of the group will join President Barack Obama Monday to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

On Saturday, four of the 11 members attending the special ceremony practiced their presentatio, which includes the presentation of the American flag and their unit flag.

Commander Terri Winter, the first female commander of the squad, said team members are always there when people bury veterans at Fort Snelling. Despite the squad's tough exterior, fighting tears isn't always easy.

"Sometimes you just don't. I try to wear sunglasses when I know that there is something that is going to affect me," Winter said. "Like, if there is a mom that is burying a child or somebody that is close to my age. It tends to do me in."

So far, the squad has performed burial honors for more than 65,000 military veterans. They show up in all sorts of weather conditions, and their dedication is all volunteer.

Members of the squad range between the ages of 51 to 95 years old. They are veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and peacetime veterans. In all, there are about 127 members.

The President will celebrate the squad's 35th year as the nation's first all-volunteer memorial rifle squad.

"We have never missed a day in 35 years," Greg Munsun said with pride. "We drive a lot of miles to get here. We have to get up early in the morning. We are here to honor. It's really an honor to do what we do, that is why going to Arlington is just ... "

Munsun couldn't find words to finish his sentence, too humbled by the opportunity and recognition.

Winter, who joined the U.S. Army the same year the squad was formed, said she was 17 and said she wanted to be like her dad, who was also a solider.

Monday she will wear a special hat decorated with pins. Each pin on the hat has meaning. Especially the faded old glory.

"This was actually my dad's, so it gives you an idea how old the flag is," she said pointing to the pin. "I will have a piece of him with me. I hope he is proud. He was always a proud dad."


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