Fort Drum Salutes President George H.W. Bush

Fort Drum Salutes President George H.W. Bush

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Soldiers on Fort Drum performed a 21-gun salute to honor the former President George H.W. Bush on Thursday.

It took place at noon as it traditionally is on the day of a funeral of a president.

"He was the commander-in-chief so I think that's just part of our history, part of tradition. We have to honor those presidents once they pass away so it's a huge honor for our guys to do it," said 1st Sgt Joseph Rapp, Bravo Battery, 3-6 Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. 

The soldiers are members of the 3-6 Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, the same battery that performed the 21-gun salute for President Trump when he visited Fort Drum in August.

The command sergeant says the ceremony was special due to the history of both President Bush and the 10th Mountain Division.

"The late President Bush served in World War II, then of course, our division's history - the 10 Mountain Division's history fighting in Riveredge and taking Mount Belvedere in these conditions during World War II so it's a pretty historic event that we get to do this ceremony in the conditions like our division fought with President Bush in World War II," said Command Sergeant Major Russell Blackwell.

Another local connection - Jarrid Rice, a 2016 graduate of South Jefferson High School and a member of the Air Force, flew down to Texas to serve on the guard of honor for President Bush. He stood guard over Bush's casket Wednesday night at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston. He says it was nerve-wracking and intense.

"A couple of times I did think I'm standing there right next to his casket. This is the 41st President, so I was a little nervous but then I just regained the focus and remembered why I was there and what I was doing," said Airman 1st Class Rice.

Rice says he arrived to Texas on Sunday and had full dress rehearsals 2 to 3 times a day for 2 to 4 hours, practicing to stand guard over the president's body.

Back here in the north country, his mother, Stacy Spinner, watched on TV and took pictures.

"So proud, so proud, I just can't believe he's actually - this is great for him. It's just amazing," she said.

There was also a salute to the nation ceremony at 5 p.m. on Fort Drum. Soldiers fired off 50 shots - one for each state. It is also traditionally performed at the close of day on the day of a president's funeral. 

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