You served your country as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States; when you die, you want military rites for your funeral, if possible. Who do you call? If you are a member of AMVET Post 49 or a veteran who qualifies for military rites and lived in the area, (a 35 mile radius of Cedar Falls), your survivor can call Amvets Post 49, at (319) 277-6655. Or perhaps the funeral director in charge of the funeral will arrange for the Post 49 Honor Guard to perform the military rites.
If there is a school or scout activity in your community (within a 35 mile radius of Cedar Falls) where the presentation of the colors is appropriate, the Honor Guard could be there. For over 40 years the Post 49 Honor Guard has participated at funerals, parades, dedications of sites, ground breaking ceremonies, school functions, high school and college football and basketball games in Cedar Falls and other communities. The unit, on one occasion traveled as many as 220 miles (round trip) to participate in a military funeral, but that is very unusual.
Currently there are 22 members of AMVET Post 49 who can be called upon to participate in a function that requires the Honor Guard. They have participated in as many as 74 funerals in a given year and have participated in as many as 3 military rites services in one day. The longest serving member was Clair Bruce, brother of Guy W. Iversen, who was present at its inception. The only female member of the unit is Debra Cox. Other female AMVET members are encouraged to participate.
We are always looking to add to the number of Honor Guard members. Younger veterans do not readily join veteran’s organizations and our Honor Guard roster is aging with the average age at or above 70 years. The Honor Guard takes pride in the flag activities and the veteran funerals we participate in, and our AMVETS Post 49 Honor Guard performs between 65 – 80 funeral honors and flag event activities per year. The Iowa Army National Guard Funeral Detail rates our Honor Guard unit as one of the top two in the state of Iowa. We are proud of that distinction.
The Honor Guard started out as a drill team in 1964. In the beginning they would meet to drill once a week. In recent years the unit has not spent any time practicing and the unit has aged and drilling is not part of their routine. Their first military funeral was for John Hughes; the leader of that unit was the late Russ Llewellyn.
There were 20 members in the original unit. The uniform consisted of khaki shirt and pants, white leggings, white helmet liners, and black shoes. Since it’s beginning the uniform has changed twice. The first change to come about was a switch to Air Force blues.
After a few years, the Air Force Blues were changed to a summer uniform for the unit that currently consist of gray slacks, black shoes, white shirt, and navy blue tie, with a navy blue blazer for cool days, and the olive drab AMVET cap. In the winter the uniform includes a heavy navy blue jacket, white dickey, gloves, and a navy blue trooper cap with earflaps.
Though there is no charge for any of the services the unit render, grateful recipients who have benefited from the services do make donations. Donations are gratefully received. Donations are used to purchase equipment for the unit. Any excess money goes into a general activity fund that benefits veterans and veterans programs.
As long as there is a Post 49 there will be an honor guard unit to represent the Post. As the old veterans drop out, younger veterans step up. They serve the fallen veterans with pride. The unit also serves as a reminder to our community of our respect for flag, country, and our fellow veterans.