Brown County Veterans Honor Guard awards scholarships

Hiawatha, KS

The Brown County Veterans Honor Guard's commitment continues to run deep. Their dedication now consists of providing military honors for deceased veterans in northeast Kansas. This tradition is not new. For over 60 years, members of the local VFW or American Legion were called upon to provide such honors upon a family member’s request, but only did so for their members.

Throughout the years, many American Legion and VFW members expired and the reduction of these organizations made it incapable to continue providing these honors. The 2 BN, 130 FA, local Kansas National Guard stepped up and were very gracious about providing these honors, but they deployed ... twice. With Jay Brock’s (Chapel Oaks funeral director) resolution that veterans be provided full military honors, and Sam Schuetz’s commitment to community and country as then-commander of American Legion Post 66, the “Brown County Veterans Honor Guard” was born. All tributes are rendered with upmost sincerity, respect and dignity, as not only are these fellow veterans and their families, but we are also performing these services for many of our friends and family.

The Brown County Veterans Honor Guard’s humble beginnings were started with the generosity of the community. We continue to add tradition to the services we provide. The flag installation or draping the flag over the casket to start the service was requested and introduced by deceased veteran Ernie Kling, who himself was involved with many of these military honors. Past Legion Commander Mike Mendez added the touching “The Last Call” as part of services at the cemetery. We are a part of Veterans Day services; we re-established the Memorial Day ceremony, and started sending young men and women to Boys and Girls State. We have asked for and received support, without hesitation, from community leaders. In recent years we established scholarships at Hiawatha, Highland and Horton schools, for deserving youth with family connections to military. This has only been possible from a proud community’s financial support for their veterans and veterans' families.

Currently the honor guard consists of 14 members: Sam Schuetz, Carl Mueller, Lavern Dunavan, Duane Kreiensieck, Bill Vonderschmidt, K.L. Benson, Dennis Greer, Dave Wilson, Delbert Larson M.D., John Howard, Steve Winter, Jim Patton, Steve Jame, and Jay Brock.

Sam Schuetz, leader and co-founder of the Brown County Veterans Honor Guard, stated, “Our current honor guard would have never come about without the continuing question by Jay Brock as to “why the Hiawatha community could not provide this most honorable duty.” Schuetz went on to say, “Our current Honor Guard members are from the Korean and Vietnam-era conflicts, all over 60 years of age. To continue meeting our self-imposed high commitment to the families of our departed veterans, the Brown County Veterans Honor Guard will need younger veterans to step forward and preserve the honorable traits and characteristics of this tradition.”

Scholarship recipients, pictured left to right: Ariel Kinnear and Joshua Allen of Horton High School, Bryce Oldridge and Haley Thompson of Hiawatha High School, Julie Vonderschmidt of Doniphan West High School.

Back row, pictured left to right: Levern Dunavan, Sam Schuetz, Steve James, Dave Wilson, Jay Brock and Steve Winter, representing the Brown County Veterans Honor Guard.

Scholarship recipients missing are Keeley Cowley of Horton High School and Allen Dorrell of Doniphan West High School.

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