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NC group films military honors for veteran funerals that can’t receive full honors during coronavirus

A folded flag sits on a casket during ceremonial funeral training at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert/Released)
May 26, 2020

Social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic have hindered social gatherings, including honors for military funerals. Several veterans in North Carolina recently joined together and acted to make sure the departed were honored despite widespread lockdowns.

The group of veterans, based out of Mount Airy, N.C., filmed themselves performing a military honor guard ceremony to share with the families of departed service members who are having to go without in-person honor guards during funerals for their loved ones.

In the video, members of the honor guard fold an American flag, play ”Taps” and provide a 21 gun salute.

Rob Luffman, whose late father Bobby Luffman served in the U.S. Air Force, came up with the idea to record the virtual honor guard ceremony after he saw a friend share a Facebook post, asking for someone to play “Taps” at her father’s funeral, Fox News reported. Luffman explained that his friend’s father had served three tours in Vietnam.

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“That was the first time it occurred to me that veterans were not getting honors ceremonies at graveside services,” Luffman said. “I had no idea it was an issue. Never thought it would be. It’s only an issue due to the COVID pandemic.”

Luffman said he reached out to his local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organizations, the Mt. Airy NC VFW and the Pilot Mountain NC VFW to help perform the ceremony.

“I started calling my friends who were in the services, trying to track down any honor guard willing to stage one for a film. Finally Mr. Arlis Thomas called me back from Mount Airy and got the group together. We scheduled it and met for the first time to do the film,” Luffman said.

Luffman and his friend John Brooks, who are both photographers, recorded the ceremony while the veterans group performed.

He said he hopes families of deceased service members will be able to find his video and use it to honor their loved ones while traditional military honors remain limited during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The film is on the Internet. All I ask is that the link to the YouTube video be shared so folks in need can find it, and share it with loved ones in times of need. That’s all we ask,” he said. “It was the right thing to do, and we did it.”