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Custer Veterans Honor Guard

Honor Guard Patch.jpg

The Custer Veterans Honor Guard, consists of volunteer members, from American Legion Post 46 and VFW Post 3442. The Honor Guard provides military honors at the funerals of Veterans as well as numerous Patriotic Events. The Honor Guard consists of a Color Guard, Firing Squad, Bugler, Officer of the Day and  Commander. A flag folding detail is also provided if necessary.


About 2017 the concept of a combined Veterans Honor Guard was conceived by Tony Gonsor. A member of Custer Post 46 and VFW Post 3442, Tony was the Commander of the VFW Honor Guard. As with many volunteer groups, it was becoming increasingly difficult to adequately fill a Color Guard and Firing Squad, to render proper Military Honors at Veteran Funerals. At the same time Post 46 did not have an active Honor Guard. The lack of an active Honor Guard in Post 46 had not always been the case, as numerous historical newspaper articles from the 1930's through the 1950's referenced Post 46 providing Military Honors at Veteran Funerals. In fact, Post 46 still maintained several 1917 Enfields for such services. Facing the issue of not being able to consistently provide proper military honors at funerals, Tony had an idea, which he first presented to VFW Post 3442. Would Post 3442 object to having a combined Honor Guard, with the American Legion? Since many of the VFW members were also members of the American Legion, there was immediate acceptance to this idea. Tony then presented the idea of a combined Honor Guard to Post 46. Again, the idea was immediately accepted.

The first year for the newly formed Custer Veteran's Honor Guard was pretty rough around the edges, in appearance and performance. However, this has quickly changed. Recognizing the need to present a professional and respectful image to the public, proper uniforms and inclement weather clothing has evolved. Including a distinct and identifying logo which has been imprinted on the jackets worn for inclement weather.

The next problem that became apparent was ceremonial weapons. Post 3442 had a number of military issue M-1 Garand's in its inventory. However, they were showing their age in both appearance and most importantly....functionality. Many times, they would fail to fire properly. They were maintained and repaired as best as they could be, but they definitely needed replaced. Since they were actually owned by the U.S. Army and only a total of 15 weapons can be possessed at one time, Post 3442 could not obtain new weapons without turning in its current inventory. That was not an option, since there were continuing requests for the services of the Honor Guard. 

Having already recognized this problem, Post 46 had been discussing the idea of obtaining it's own updated weapons. The main problem was the storage and security of the weapons. In 2020, Post 46 had worked out the issue of storage and security and officially submitted application to obtain 10 M-1 Garand's. In 2022, Custer American Legion Post 46 received those rifles. Post 46 now had M-1's for a full Firing Squad and 1917 Enfield's for a Color Guard.

The problem of being able to field a full Honor Guard, for various activities continues. The current volunteers range in age from the 80's to 40's. The bulk of the membership consists of volunteers in their late 60's to mid 70's. Health issues, family commitments and employment are always deciding factors in attending any event. As Veterans from the Gulf Wars have started to join the American Legion and VFW, they have slowly begun to enter the Honor Guard Ranks. Both Post 46 and Post 3442, have since welcomed the first women Vets as members of their respective Honor Guards. Both Post 46 and 3442 are committed to the long-term life and service of the Custer Veterans Honor Guard.

Since the inception of the Custer Veteran's Honor Guard, it has had the honor to not only perform within Custer, but also being requested to provide services throughout the Southern Black Hills. This includes, Custer, Pringle, Cold Springs, Dewey, Hill City, Keystone and Hayward, as well as a couple of pioneer cemeteries hidden away in the beautiful Black Hills. Most notably, the Custer Veteran's Honor Guard has been authorized to perform military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery, near Sturgis. 

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