DOBSON — Surry County will kick in $15,000 to help Surry County’s Veterans of Foreign Wars posts purchase a new bus for the honor guard.
“It’s about time for our heater to start working,” said Mount Airy VFW commander David Raborn. “In January our air conditioning works really well.”
Raborn, accompanied by about a half-dozen VFW members, took the podium during the public forum portion of the county Board of Commissioners’ meeting on April 3. He said a 1992 bus used to transport an honor guard is “on its last leg.”
The honor guard, comprised of members of the Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy VFW posts, handles the military customs and courtesies associated with all funerals for veterans in Surry County. In 2016, the honor guard offered a three-volley salute to 66 veterans departing the ranks, and already so far this year, the honor guard had performed services at the the funerals of 30 more.
Sometimes the group attends up to three funerals in one day, and it receives no monetary compensation for the services, said Raborn. The VFW is the only group performing such a role in Surry County.
The bus was bought new in 1992. However, with more than 200,000 miles on it, it is time to decommission the bus, said Raborn. Its air conditioning and heating units, despite multiple repairs, are no longer functioning, and other parts on the bus have been failing.
The commander has priced buses, and a “new, used” bus will cost the VFW a minimum of $40,000. Raborn noted he wants to buy one which is no older than a 2012 model.
“If we can get what we got out of this bus, none of us will be here to ask you for more money,” Raborn told the board.
The posts have raised a little more than $6,000 to purchase the bus through fundraising efforts such as a spaghetti dinner and an auction.
Raborn mentioned the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners had pledged $20,000 toward the cause. Additionally, each of the board’s members had personally donated $100.