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AARP AARP States New Mexico

AARP New Mexico Sponsors Honor Guard Conference

AARP New Mexico and the AARP Las Cruces Chapter are proud sponsors of the 2023 Southern New Mexico Honor Guards Training Conference held April 21 in Las Cruces.


“People don’t realize that the honor guards that provide military honors at many veterans’ funerals across New Mexico is provided by volunteers,” said Gary Williams, AARP New Mexico’s Associate State Director for Community Service. “The service is also provided free of charge for any veteran honorably discharged.”

Twice a year the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services, and the New Mexico National Guard, with assistance from AARP New Mexico, conducts a training and competition for honor guards from around the state.

The event is part of AARP New Mexico’s Veterans, Military and their Families or VMF work, which is committed to supporting and connecting veterans and their families to information and resources.

The southern competition is held in the spring while the late summer program is held in Albuquerque, with teams coming from around the regions to participate. Over 80 veterans and family attended the spring event.

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The New Mexico National Guard provides the training, demonstrating the proper technique on the rifle volley, playing Taps, synchronization, and folding the American Flag for presentation to the veteran’s loved one.

“There are very strict guidelines for how these things must be done. For example, the flag must be folded in a perfect triangle without any red or white showing,” Williams said.

The event pits units against one another in three categories- small, medium, and large unit size. The day starts with breakfast and a demonstration of the proper way to perform the service for fallen veterans, along with the information on scoring each unit. Units are scored on uniform attire, movements, flag folding, and presentation to the family representative.

This year, a new cup trophy was added to the first-place winner in each category, who will strive to defend the trophy at the next competition.


At the summer event, Williams often serves as a judge for the competition. This year at the spring event, AARP Volunteer Dave Lynch, former state president and former Las Cruces Chapter President, shadowed the judges so he could be a judge in the future.

“Some of the State and federal funding for this event fell by the wayside so AARP was proud to step in, as part of our VMF program, to continue this valuable work,” he said.

“This is a great way for us to thank the guard units for the service they provide to the families of deceased veterans,” Williams said.

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