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Friday, December 26, 2014

LATHAM — New York Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen expect to provide military funeral honors for about 11,300 New York families before 2014 comes to an end.

As of Monday, the 124 members of the New York Army National Guard Honor Guard had performed 9,362 funeral honors missions. Additionally, the Honor Guard for the five New York Air National Guard flying wings — located in Niagara Falls, Syracuse, Scotia, Newburgh, and Westhampton Beach — and the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, conducted 1,798 military funerals as of Wednesday.

Since 2000, federal law has mandated that any military veteran who did not receive a dishonorable discharge from the armed forces is eligible for military honors at his or her funeral. The ceremony must include the folding and presenting of the flag of the United States to the veteran's survivors and the playing of Taps.

At least two members of the armed forces must be present for the ceremony. The New York Honor Guard normally sends two soldiers to fold the flag and play Taps.

This year the New York Honor Guard teams conducted 63 Modified Full Honors funerals which include six pall bears, a non-commissioned officer in charge, and a bugler.

Among those funerals were two for soldiers who died during the Korean War and whose remains were brought home to New York in 2014. The remains of Sgt. Michael James Barra, who died in a North Korean prison camp in 1951 were buried in Ithaca on Nov. 22, ; while the remains of Master Sgt. Lawrence Jock, who went missing in 1953 and was declared dead in 1954 were interred in Malone on August 1.

The New York Army National Guard Honor Guard has been performing around 10,000 funerals annually since the federal law in 2000 mandating military funerals for veterans.

New York is home to 943,000 veterans, according to the most recent Department of Veterans Affairs statistics from late 2012. Of those veterans, more than 300,000 are age 65 and older.

The New York Army National Guard Military Forces Honor Guard was launched in 1999 as a state funded effort. Since 2000 the federal government has funded the program, with some state financial support in the past.

Military Funeral services provided by New York Army National Guard Honor Guard regional Offices for 2014 as of Monday:

  • Buffalo - 1,155
  • Long Island - 3,433
  • Bronx - 1,519
  • Capital Region - 732
  • Rochester - 716
  • Horseheads - 535
  • Syracuse - 738
  • Hudson Valley - 534

Military Funeral Services provided by the New York Air National Guard in 2014, as of Wednesday were:

  • 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Niagara Falls - 380
  • 106th Rescue Wing at FS Gabreski Air National Guard Base, Westhampton Beach - 643
  • 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh - 201
  • 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard base, Scotia - 285
  • 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse - 239
  • Eastern Air Defense Sector, Rome - 50

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