Nearly every Wednesday morning, Bob Bowen is among a small contingent of men from Rosetown American Legion Post 542 and Roseville VFW Post 7555 who do color guard duty at funerals at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
The volunteers from the two Roseville veterans groups join forces with other men in the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad. “People come from all over the Twin Cities, as far as Rush City,” said Bowen, 73, a retired truck driver and who served in the U.S. Army during the post-Korean era.
The Rifle Squad was formed in 1979 and has, through the years, honored more than 56,000 deceased veterans by playing taps and firing off three-gun salutes, according to the group's web site.
Altogether, there are about 15 men from the two Roseville posts who serve with the Rifle Squad at funerals about 48 weeks a year at Fort Snelling, said Bowen. On days when he is volunteering, Bowen is the bus driver who gets the color guardsmen to the various graves sites at the expansive Fort Snelling Cemetery grounds.
The Fort Snelling Rifle Squad generally serves for a few hours Mondays through Fridays, Bowen said. He noted it’s not unusual for the Rifle Squad to serve at upwards of 11 funerals per day.
Bowen sees his color guard service at these funerals as a small token “to honor the fallen veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In my heart, I feel honored to be able to do this and give back to the country.”
Bowen, commander of the combined Roseville Legion and VFW club color guard, also intends to lead his charges in participating in the 30th annual Memorial Day observance at Roselawn Cemetery, 803 W. Larpenteur Ave., Roseville. The hour-long ceremony is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., Monday.
Bowen said he has been in the color guard for about 10 years, joining the Roseville post’s group just days after he retired in October, 1999.
“I find it’s an honor,” he said,