We had three winners of the Successful Aging Award with one of them in attendance. The photo here is of Walter Stover with Mark Boutwell after receiving his award. He is a very active Vet to Vet Volunteer Visitor among his many contributions to his community. During the event, he shared with me the story of his early army career which is below. His experience was so interesting I asked permission to repeat it:
After Infantry Training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, Walter was selected for duty with the Presidential Honor Guard, 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) in Fort Myer, Virginia. This group is known as “The President’s Own” serving as the president’s personal escort and “Honor Guard to the President”.
Responsibilities included ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital. These included all ceremonial functions for the President of the United States and other American and foreign government officials. Walter’s duties involved guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and participating in military funerals in Arlington National Cemetery. “The Old Guard” unit is the oldest infantry unit in the U.S. Army. Pre-dating the U.S. Constitution, Walter’s unit traces its roots to the old First American Regiment which was organized under the authority of a resolution of the Continental Congress. Many of the names on its rolls were those of men who fought with Washington at Valley Forge and Yorktown.
Walter recalled that while he was stationed in Washington D.C., he participated in three state funerals: President Herbert Hoover, General MacArthur, and President John F. Kennedy. As one of the pallbearers who assisted in taking President Kennedy’s body off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in 1963, he found himself in a true event in history. The recent anniversary on November 22nd of President Kennedy’s death brought many of these memories back to Walter. He served in a number of historic moments in the following days. His unit served as personal escort for President Lyndon Baines Johnson at his inaugural parade. Walter was in the lead marching unit at the funeral of President Kennedy and was then one of the first guards watching over JFK’s gravesite in Arlington national Cemetery.
Walter Stover continues his service now as one of our honored Vet to Vet Visitors. He is truly an example to us all as he continues to serve others by brightening the lives of all those he visits. He also volunteers at our Memory Café in Brattleboro where he engages in an easy and friendly manner with those of us who have symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. We all salute Walter and congratulate him for being recognized as an outstanding example of Aging Successfully.