Back on the road

Donations and community support assists honor guard with new bus

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TIMES-REPUBLICAN

The Combined Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 839/American Legion Post 46 Honor Guard was literally on their last wheel earlier this year.

The honor guard’s 1992 Ford passenger bus, with more than 140,000 in-town miles, was in dire straits. It needed new flooring to replace sections that were rotten or rusted out, exhaust fumes had been seeping into the passenger area, brake lines were leaking due to rust and corrosion, there were no turn signals, the engine was leaking oil, and the air conditioner did not work.

Two years earlier, the organization received $6,000 in donations to repair the vehicle’s transmission and other mechanical issues.

But this time around, repairs to fix the assortment of issues would have proven cost prohibitive and community members, as well some of the honor guard members themselves, recognized the time to buy new was now.

But where was the money going to come from?

A Facebook plea from the guard, as well as encouragement from the community sparked a great deal of interest.

Contributions from organizations like 100 Women Who Care, a donation from Emerson-Fisher, a grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation and countless individual donations soon filled the honor guard’s coffers and after only a few months, $59,925 was in hand for the honor guard to purchase a new 2017 14-passenger vehicle.

“That really said to us that [the community] really cares about the honor guard and our veterans,” said Honor Guard Commander Ken Breinig, who, along with some of his fellow guard compatriots, just took delivery of their new vehicle on Tuesday from the Hoglund Bus Company in Marshalltown.

The combined honor guard travels to numerous events throughout the year, including performing military honors at the funerals of those men and women who have passed.

Breinig said it was important the organization obtain a new vehicle in which they could safely travel to and from different funerals and military events.

The outpouring of donations and interest in the purchase of a new bus from the community, Breinig said, touched the hearts of the honor guard members.

“They were very happy and humbled,” he said, adding the donations honor the sacrifice of those veterans by providing guard members a new vehicle so that they can attend these services, in turn giving every veteran a dignified final farewell.

Breinig said decals and other markings associated with the honor guard will be added later to the bus.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com