Roseville Legion Member Heads Color Guard

Bowen calls service "an honor."

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,  

Jill P. February 25, 2013 at 07:45 PM
The Volunteer Color Guard at Fort Snelling National Cemetery makes me proud to be American. You good veterans perform such an important service to our deceased veterans and their loved ones. May I tell you a story? When my Father-in-Law, George Gustafson, Sr, (TSGT US ARMY WORLD WAR II) passed away in June, 2011, his graveside service at Fort Snelling was very dignified and moving. George's family truly appreciated every moment. My own father knew the bugler as Dad is a musician, too. George had said it would be an honor to be interned at Fort Snelling. When our best friend, Robert J. Sjogren (SP4 US ARMY VIETNAM) passed away Feb. 1, 2013, no one knew-- his friends did not even know he was sick, and his only (distant) relatives were not very involved. Later, Decedent Affairs at the VAMC informed me that Robert received the military funeral he'd earned. This was such a relief to all of Robert's friends that Robert had been interned the way he said he wanted! He told me years ago that playing "Taps" and the 3 gun salute meant a lot to him when he went to military funerals. We are all sad that we could not be there for the service, but we're happy that Robert got his wishes. Thank you for all you do. Sincerely, Jill M. Peters River Falls, WI RN at VAMC, Minneapolis


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