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FOR RELEASE: Friday, Sep 24, 2010

New York Honor Guard Wins Top Honors At National Competition

Eight-Soldier team represents120 Honor Guard members at Minnesota event

LATHAM, NY (09/24/2010)(readMedia)-- The New York National Guard's Honor Guard was judged best in the nation Thursday, Sept. 23 at a competition held in Fort Snelling, Minnesota.' The four-day event pitted eight members of the 120-member New York Military Forces Honor Guard against similar teams from seven other states, all of which had taken their top regional honors. They were judged on their military bearing, appearance, and ability to execute a variety of tasks ranging from removing a casket from an aircraft to presenting a flag to a fallen Soldier's next of kin. The competitors were judged by Active Duty Soldiers assigned to the Army's Third Infantry Regiment , known as the Old Guard, which provides funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Third Infantry Regiment Soldiers guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers as well. The National Guard Honor Guard's provide military 80 percent of all military funeral honors for veterans across the country. New York's eleven regional Honor Guards provide honors at 800 to 900 funerals monthly. In 2009 the New York Military Forces Honor Guard was involved with 10,374 funerals. Some Soldiers serve with the Honor Guard on a full-time basis while others serve in a part-time status. New York's competition team included Soldiers from New York City, Syracuse, the Hudson Valley and Western New York. " We are proud of these dedicated, talented Soldiers," said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. " Honor Guard members are very passionate about what they do every day; providing final honors for our veterans." "Their commitment is exemplified by their receiving top honors in this very tough national competition," he added. " The winning performance of this team is indicative of the high standards we expect of all 120 Soldiers who serve on our Honor Guards across the state," he added. The week long competition was tough and grueling, said Don Roy, the civilian director of the Military Forces Honor Guard. The judges check everything from the shine on a Soldiers shoes to creases in their uniform to the precision of their movements as they transfer a casket from a hearse to the simulated grave site, he explained. "I am very proud of all of our soldiers. All of them work and train hard to provide proper honors to our Veterans and their family," Roy said. " I am especially proud of our winning team. We are all proud to provide these honors. At times it is hard not to feel the family's pain. It does get easier as it goes along but it is never easy," he added. Representing the New York Military Forces Honor Guard were: Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Stone -- Syracuse, NY; Sgt. Goanergis Vargas -- Bronx, NY; Spc. Tomas Couvertier-- Bronx, NY; Spc. Ruben Martinez-Ortiz -- Bronx, NY; Sgt John Baker -- Buffalo, NY; Spc. Jared Fatigate - Sherman, Ct; Spc. Daniel Messina - New Windsor, NY; Spc. Jason Grossman -- Airmont, NY. The initial competition involved a review of video-taped Honor Guard performances submitted by the states in each of the seven regions of the country. The region New York will represent consists of New York and the New England States. To ensure that Honor Guards meet the highest standards of appearance and drill, the National Guard Bureau initiated a national competition in 2007. Photo Cutlines: 100922-F-5508O-001.jpg Members of the New York Honor Guard team at the 2010 Army National Guard Honor Guard competition, at Fort Snelling, Minn. are front (from left): Sgt. John Baker, Sgt. Goanergis Vargas, Spc. Jared Fatigate, and Spc. Ruben Martinez-Ortiz . The Soldiers in the rear are (from left): Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Stone, Spc. Jason Grossman,Spc. Daniel Messina and Spc. Tomas Couvertier. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Orrell, National Guard Bureau) 100923-F-7770D123.JPG The New York Military Forces Honor Guard team simulates a funeral service during the 2010 Army National Guard's Honor Guard competition at Fort Snelling, Minn. on Sept. 23 (Photo by Tech Sgt Amie Dahl, Minnesota Air National Guard)


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