He’s a young guy in Old Guard – Chandler serviceman honors retired, fallen at Arlington cemetery

By Lars Jacoby
Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
February 21, 2005

Honoring America’s fallen soldiers is a part of everyday life for Army Specialist 4 Aaron McCann, a 2001 graduate of Hamilton High School in Chandler.

For more than a year, McCann has served on caisson duty with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard.

Since he’s been with the Old Guard, McCann has participated in the funeral of President Reagan and marched in the inauguration parade of President Bush.

However, he said the best part of his job is honoring retired and fallen soldiers who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“They told us that funerals aren’t for the deceased, it’s for the living that they left behind, and this is the last chance for them to see their loved one,” McCann said. “You wouldn’t believe some of the (thank you) letters that get written to our company. That’s one of the biggest honors I get out of it.”

As a member of the caisson detail, a horse-drawn carriage that carries a coffin, McCann serves in 15 to 20 funerals a week, but that’s not his only duty. The Old Guard is also on call at all times to handle riot or crowd control in Washington, D.C., so McCann and his fellow soldiers are constantly training.

“They say we have the hardest job in the Army because we’re doing so much stuff all the time, we never really know what we’re getting ourselves into day by day,” he said.

Back home in Chandler, McCann’s mom, Jayne, is “very relieved” knowing her son is stationed in the United States, she said.

“I’m extremely proud of what he does. I look at their Web site every week to see what he’s been up to.”

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