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Base Honor Guard honors Vet, refolds WWII-era flag

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sarah Post
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

The 90th Missile Wing Base Honor Guard honored a Vietnam War veteran in a funeral ceremony in Erie, Colorado, Oct. 25, 2023. 

This ceremony was different than most that Honor Guard participate in, because the American flag presented to the veteran’s family is a World War II-era flag that has been passed through the family. 

Robert Stark joined the U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas in 1959. He then went on to volunteer for service in the United States Air Force in 1965, in the midst of escalation in the Vietnam War. He served five years in the Air Force before separating as a captain in 1970. 

During his tenure, Robert worked with aircraft and acted as a C-130 Aircraft commander for some time. His time spent with aircraft and his dedicated service earned him the Air Medal six times for Meritorious Achievement during his participation in aerial flights from 1968 through 1970. Additionally, Robert was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Extraordinary Achievement for an aerial flight on April 29, 1968. This award was earned for his participation and service in a hazardous tactical emergency airdrop mission that delivered ammunition to forces in a valley below. 

Robert’s father, Norvell Stark, also served in the military and volunteered for service in the U.S. Army in 1940. He served during World War II in the 1st Calvary Division until the Army transitioned from horses to tanks, as well as in other positions both in the states and overseas. Norvell was awarded the Bronze Star medal and continued his service until retiring at a lieutenant colonel. 

“I am very proud of both my father's and grandfather's service to our country,” said Bill Stark, son of Robert. “They answered the call when our country needed them and served honorably during their respective tenures. I am grateful for their service and take my liberty and civic obligations quite seriously as a result. It is because of their service, alongside my mother's, uncle's and so many others, that we and our children are free to enjoy the benefits of a thriving society. Their sacrifices created opportunities for their children and grandchildren, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

When Norvell passed away in 1986, his widow was presented a folded American flag as a representation of his service and sacrifices to the country. She kept the flag until upon her own passing when Robert received the flag to hold onto to honor his father’s service. 

Robert passed away in May 2023 at the age of 81. The same American flag folded at his father’s funeral in 1986 was refolded and presented to Robert’s family at his funeral service.

“I joined honor guard because of my grandfather who served. I feel like this keeps me close to him, so it touches my heart when I do these ceremonies,” said Airman 1st Class Beverlee Broomfield, 90 MW Base Honor Guardsman and ceremony lead. “For this ceremony particularly, it warms my heart to see people passing momentums like this flag through family. My grandfather’s flag is missing, so seeing this flag and ceremony is sentimental to me.” 

Broomfield, along with all of her fellow honor guard members, volunteer to serve in this position. They must go through a two-week training regimen at the start of their time that covers standing manuals, rifle movements and funeral sequences. Once they graduate from training and become honor guardsmen, they serve six months full time and six months on reserve. 

90 MW Base Honor Guard is tasked with honoring past and present service members by providing military funeral honors to veterans, retirees and fallen active-duty members across 9,500 square miles in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. When not preforming this mission, they also post or present the colors, being American and Air Force flags, at official military events such as retirements, promotions or changes of command.