TWRA Honor Guard honoring the fallen
The Honor Guard from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has been chosen to present the colors at the August 27 Titans football game versus the Chicago Bears. It's a fun assignment, but very different from most of the duties the TWRA Honor Guard is called upon to perform.
Officially created about four years ago, most people aren't even aware the TWRA Honor Guard exists. But in its relatively short life span its members have provided a tremendous service.
The TWRA Honor Guard is a 21-man team formed by wildlife officers throughout the state. The mission of the team is to represent the Agency in honoring fallen officers, active or retired, and support their families for the sacrifices the officer has made throughout their career.
At the May meeting of the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission the head of the Honor Guard, Capt. Matt Majors, made a presentation of the group's activities.
"I could speak to you all day about the things I've done with this Agency that have made an impact on my life," said Capt. Majors. "But I can say for sure that one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, is being presented a crisply folded flag from our Honor Guard and presenting it to a grieving widow and family... thanking that family for the service of their loved one to the sportsmen of Tennessee. There is no higher honor for me."
TWRA Law Enforcement Chief Col. Darren Rider said, "It was Matt's dream and his effort to pull this together."
Capt. Majors told Commissioners the vision for the TWRA Honor Guard was born in 2011 after the death of a wildlife officer.
"We put together a great showing of respect from this Agency," said Capt. Majors. "But it caused us to look back and say, 'How could we do more," because that's what we wanted to do was more. Everybody who's worn the [TWRA] badge, everybody's who's enforced our laws needs to be recognized, in our eyes, for all the service they've given."
The team was officially formed in 2013 and since then have served at the funeral services of 25 wildlife officers, active and retired. In addition they have represented the Agency at numerous services for law enforcement officers of other agencies.
"We always send at least a couple of our Honor Guard members as a show of solidarity and support for those other agencies to show that we are mourning with them," said Capt. Majors.
The group has also served at numerous other ceremonies... including the 2017 National Police Week ceremonies held in May in Washington, DC. The TWRA Honor Guard was selected from among hundreds of law enforcement agency applicants. Four TWRA Honor Guard members were first in line to pay homage to thousands of family members as they were escorted to the ceremony.
"We saw lots of smiles, we saw lots of tears," said Capt. Majors.
Capt. Majors said in many cases fallen wildlife officers also served in the military. Of course all U.S. armed services will provide Honor Guard services for the funeral of any veteran. Capt. Majors said, however, that often the families request the TWRA Honor Guard instead.
"They'll tell me, 'He was a member of military and we're so proud of his service. But he wanted our wildlife officers to stand beside him," shared Capt. Majors. "We'll certainly work with military Honor Guards but more times than not, the brotherhood of the wildlife officers shows through. Being a wildlife officer truly is a brotherhood. Once you are one, you are one forever."
You can watch Capt. Majors' entire presentation to the TFWC here: