KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Herb Kraehmer’s time with the Navy has long passed but his duty to serve is very much alive.

“It’s basically classified. Can’t talk much about it.”

His current mission is one of honoring those who served in the armed forces.

“I get emotional. My wife is a Gold Star Family. Her brother actually died in Vietnam in 1968. Sometimes I get emotional.. Sometimes it’s hard,” said Kraehmer.

The Veterans Military Honor Guard of Pigeon Forge is small in number, but they keep busy. They go from flag service to flag service, making sure veterans are given an appropriate sendoff. While conducting our interview, another honor guard unit pulled into the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery as another unit was pulling off.

“In fact, here comes Volunteer State (Veterans Honor Guard) right now,” said Kraemer. “We do two or three a day. There are sometimes five services in this cemetery. Plus, other cemeteries around the Knox County area.”

The honor guards provide final military honors to deceased veterans. They also provide ceremonial and flag services for free. All of their services are free. 

They keep busy. Kraehmer was inspired to join the honor guard after the death of his father.

“Aww, I think he would be proud. He was World War II and Korea,” a sentimental Kraehmer reflected, “I was looking for something to do when I retired. My father passed away. My brother and sister arranged for me to receive my father’s flag. I felt that was the Lord talking to me. And I have been doing it ever since.”

While volunteers don’t have to have a divine calling to join, he hopes someone will answer the call.