Active in the funeral team

memorial service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.”/>

Sgt. Christina Aguilar of the Nevada Army National Guard presents a U.S. flag at a military memorial service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

The gentle breeze was blowing the large US flag on an early fall afternoon overlooking Northern Nevada’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
As the Nevada Veterans Coalition Honor Guard marched to the pavilion to set up the colors, two soldiers stood in the back of the pavilion in silence, waiting for the ceremony to proceed.
Looking straight ahead, eyes fixed on the narrator, is Sgt. Christina Aguilar, a senior member of the Nevada Army National Guard’s funeral team who knows more about the veterans honored in unaccompanied service. For one reason or another, family members were either unable to attend the ceremony or there are no survivors.
“This job is such an honor,” said Aguilar after the unaccompanied service in October. “I do it with pleasure. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this for many years to come. “
Other funerals include either a soldier or a woman from a northern Nevada ward and are attended by family and friends.
Steve Ranson / LVN
Nevada Army National Guard Sgt. Christina Aguilar greets during a military service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

The 2013 North Valleys High School graduate, who served in the Nevada Army National Guard for six years, said being part of the funeral team was different from any other military specialty.
“I really am serving the community in ways that we as traditional guardsmen cannot,” she said.
It was this community service that led Aguilar to enroll in the Nevada Army National Guard. She originally enrolled in college for the perks, but after enrolling she discovered how much she loves her two communities – the civil world and the other with her veterans.
When she is not attending a military memorial service in Fernley or any other cemetery, Aguilar takes care of the administrative side of the ceremonies full time.
During the actual funeral ceremony, the ceremonial team of the guard consists of at least two, and in most cases up to eight soldiers. At smaller funerals, Aguilar and another soldier unfold the US flag, fold it up again, and present it to a family member. At larger funerals, the entire honor guard takes care of the coffin.
Aguilar remembers the ceremonies, but there are some that appeal to her more than the others.
“So many stand out, but the ones who stand out the most are the ones closest to us,” said Aguilar. “We had guardsmen or other soldiers who were deployed or unfortunately died in other ways.”
Although Aguilar did not specifically mention “other avenues,” the Nevada Army National Guard funeral team has conducted funerals for soldiers who have committed suicide.
One of the most moving ceremonies that Aguilar and the funeral team performed occurred in early August 2019 when a WWII pilot was honored and then buried at the NNVMC. Lt. Lowell Twedt died on October 20, 1944, when German air defense received him and two other P-38J Lightning pilots of the 71st Twedt full military honors.
“It was a big ceremony for us, something we had never done before,” said Aguilar. “For everything he (Twedt) did, it was really an honor.”
Aguilar said that for a veteran’s funeral, it is important that the funeral team perform the ceremony with dignity and precision. After each ceremony, she said the team will meet and review their attendance at the funeral.
While in the Nevada Army National Guard, Aguilar was assigned to two military police units and attended investigative school. Now she is studying on the civil side of her life to become a nurse. In her free time, Aguilar likes to dance, sing, snowboard and hike.
Aguilar said she also enjoyed being on the Nevada Guard team.
“It’s very familiar,” she said. “We look out for each other. We stop each other. “

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