Many college students use their time outside the classroom to hang out with friends, play video games, or participate in extracurricular activities. A senior at Western Illinois University devotes a portion of his time to military funerals.
Jordon Maag is a member of the Illinois Army National Guard's 233rd Military Police Unit in Springfield. A couple years ago a friend in the guard suggested he volunteer for the Military Funeral Honors Program.
He found it to be a valuable service.
“It's great to be able to fold the flag, hand it off to the family, and to see the look in their face -- they light up -- when you present the flag to them,” Maag said.
He believes the majority of the funerals he serves at are for veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Vietnam. Maag said it's “astonishing” to hear the stories of what some veterans did while serving their country.
Maag will graduate from WIU in December. He is majoring in Law Enforcement Justice Administration with a minor in Homeland Security. He said his military police duty combines his interests in law enforcement and the military.
Maag said a few of his friends and classmates know about his participation in the Military Funeral Honors Program.
“They ask me how things went, if I can show them the proper procedure to fold the flag, why we do the volley, why we do 'Taps,'” Maag said. “You know how people are. Sometimes they get curious about things so they just want to ask questions and I usually have no problem answering them.”
Maag said the Guard will check on his school schedule ahead of time to make sure he is available to serve at a funeral. He estimates he has served at around 100 funerals.
In western Illinois, the Military Funeral Honors Program operates out of the Macomb Armory. Sgt Ryan Melvin said guard members who are interested in serving in the program should contact his office at (309) 836-7711.