No veteran left behind
By SUSAN PAYNE
The Daily Nonpareil
COUNCIL BLUFFS — Kanesville Riders Honor Guard formed in 2014 under the premise of one mission: To make sure no veteran is buried without honor.
Now a 30-member group, the Honor Guard has committed more than 530 military funerals, capable of presenting full military burial honors, firing detail, escorts, dedications and flag raising — all in the name of veterans.
Last October, the group acquired a building that through “trial and tribulation” and support from the community, they have made it their own, Al Ruby, sergeant of arms, and Dale Gates, vice president, said.
“As far as we know, we are the only group that does this,” Ruby told The Daily Nonpareil. “We fold, present and do military honors in national cemeteries in Nebraska and Iowa.”
Sanctioned by the Department of Defense, the group holds weekly meetings and undergoes extensive training to honor the veterans who have died.
“We train with the Department of Defense, sometimes we train and it’s not enough because we want to do what’s right for the family,” Ruby said. “At no cost to the families or funeral homes.”
The Honor Guard comprises military and nonmilitary members of various vocations.
“Some people aren’t military, but they are just as military as someone who is because they are dedicated. Either their father, son, husband or wife got involved with this group because of that and they support it,” Ruby said.
In 2019, the group has done more than 50 funerals, although, not all members’ schedules allow them to attend every funeral.
“If you join, you need to be dedicated to the best of your ability. You’re not just joining a group of people who perform full military honors, you’re joining a group that is dedicated and went through so much to get where we are,” Ruby said.
Although the group legally goes by Kanesville Riders Honor Guard, Ruby said they are “shying away from the word ‘riders,'” but will not change it legally.
Years ago, his brother, Bob Ruby, designed the group’s patch that still holds “riders” in its design. Because of this, Ruby said people might believe they have to ride a motorcycle to join, but that is not true.
“Anyone can join and we are always looking for new members,” he said.
Bob Ruby, who has since passed, is commemorated through the patch.
“He spent months of designing, redesigning and finishing the patch,” said Gates.
“It took him three months to get the patch ready and it stands for more than air force, army, marines. It stands for the past, present and future because we serve all,” Ruby added.
Although the group’s main work is presenting full military honors at burials, the group has installed ramps for veterans, visited them in nursing homes, and has completed housework or repairs for veterans overseas and their families.
In the same light, the community has given back to the Honor Guard that brought them through the “trials and tribulations,” Ruby said.
Behind the building, someone with a child was caught on video installing a Kanesville Honor Guard sign near the railing. Cindy Ruby said they still don’t know who did it, but it was a beautiful gesture.
From the city of Council Bluffs, to Woodmen of the World in Omaha, the Honor Guard has more than 50 sponsors within the community that support its mission.
“When we feel like quitting or giving up, we have to remember why we started this,” Ruby said. “For veterans and their families.”
Gates and Ruby added that no veterans should be buried without honors and no family should pay for that to be done. The veteran earned it, Gates said.