Man’s 58-year mission has been to honor others

9:53 am | December 9, 2013
Photo by Brandon Hicks

Albert Harrison presents Roy Carriger with a plaque honoring him for 58 years of volunteer service with the Carter County Honor Guard.

For the past 58 years, Roy Carriger has volunteered his time to provide military honors at local veterans’ funerals with the Carter County Honor Guard.

“It is something that needs to be done,” Carriger said. “It’s an honor to serve the veterans. They deserve a good military funeral. I’ve served with a lot of good men on the Honor Guard.”

Carriger joined the Honor Guard in 1955 when he was 20. He was just out of the Marine Corps and joined the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Since then, he has served more than 5,000 volunteer hours providing military honors at regional funerals.

In that time, Carriger has been to thousands of funerals in Carter County as well as surrounding counties and states.
“I’ve been to Knoxville, to North Carolina, to Virginia,” Carriger said. “I’ve been to all these mountains. You wouldn’t believe the number of cemeteries that are in this county. They are in all of the mountains and hollows and on every knob and valley.”

Carriger remembers a unique service that involved the aerial dispersal of a veteran’s ashes over his family’s property bordering Watauga Lake.

Carriger said the funeral, which occurred around 1995, was for a veteran who died in Ohio but had family in Carter County. He said Ohio regulations did not allow for the man’s ashes to be dispersed as he wanted, so his family brought his remains to Carter County for a funeral.

The funeral was held at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and then Carriger, along with another Honor Guard member, joined the family for a flight in a restored Russian bi-plane over Watauga Lake to scatter the veteran’s ashes.

“That was something else,” he said.

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