Krueger is the team leader of the North Dakota National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program for the northwest region.
The program is quite new. It began in Bismarck in October 2006. Since then, it has been expanded to three others regions of the state, with team leaders in Fargo since April 2007, Grand Forks in late 2007 and since Feb. 1, in Minot.
Krueger’s territory includes west to the North Dakota/Montana border, east to Fessenden, south to the Garrison/Underwood areas and north to the N.D. /Canadian border.
Originally from Sawyer, Krueger joined the National Guard when he was 17. When he was 20 he went on active duty in the Army, stationed at Schoffield Barracks, an Army post in Hawaii, and went to Afghanistan. He returned to the National Guard in April 2006.
In regard to the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program, he said, “We handle all veterans of all branches of service.”
“Any eligible veteran is authorized military rites,” Krueger said. He said a law was passed by the Department of Defense that every eligible veteran is authorized military rites.
The Military Funeral Honors Law was passed in fiscal year 2000, said Janette Fetch, Bismarck, coordinator of the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors State Program.
Funeral homes contact Krueger when they have a family who requests military funeral honors. Krueger then contacts his team members and Veterans Service organizations, the latter to provide information about the funeral to work together to provide honors.
National Guard members throughout the state are Military Funeral Honors members for the program and can be called on.
“It’s required that military uniformed personnel fold the flag ceremonially,” Krueger said. Usually two or three soldiers perform the honors for a funeral, he said.
Statewide, the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program has provided military honors at 403 funerals from fiscal year Oct. 1, 2007, through the end of May, Fetch said. In May, the program provided military honors at 79 funerals statewide.
For example, during the past two weeks the program in Minot has provided military honors at six funerals for veterans, the majority of them World War II veterans, Krueger said.
For two weeks in March and April, Krueger participated in a Regional Military Funeral Honors Course at Camp Grafton near Devils Lake. Old Guard instructors from Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia were in charge of certifying the participants.
“The only thing accepted is perfection,” Krueger said, of the course.
Fetch said the Military Funeral Honors Program has been well received in the communities for the service being provided to veterans and their families, and that the program is working with the veterans organizations. “We have good teams in all locations,” she said.
“It’s bittersweet, it really is when we’re out there doing it,” Krueger said. He said the funerals are an emotional time but he enjoys doing the work, and that the program is providing for veterans and their families.
Besides his fulltime position with the Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program, Krueger is a member of Detachment 2, 818th Engineer Company (Sapper) of Hazen, a unit of the 164th Engineer Battalion. Krueger is among about 100 N.D. National Guard members currently taking part in Operation Jump Start to provide assistance to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the U.S./Mexico border. The mission is the annual training for Krueger’s unit.
Any National Guard soldiers interested in volunteering for the Guard’s Military Honors Program can call Krueger at 340-3230.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Eloise Ogden/MDN •
Spc. Kacey Krueger, holding a folded U.S. flag, stands by the Veterans Monument in Minot’s Rosehill Memorial Park in this photo taken Wednesday. Krueger is the team leader for the northwest region of the North Dakota National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program.