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River View grad performs at President George H. W. Bush’s funeral

| December 10, 2018

DoD photo by U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Black | www.dvidshub.net

HOUSTON, Texas – On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the nation came together and grieved over the death of former president George H. W. Bush as his funeral took place in Houston, Texas. Thousands gathered to pay their respects to the 41st president of the United States and his family. Military bands and nationally-acclaimed musicians performed at the president’s funeral as citizens of the United States put aside politics to come together and mourn.

One such musician was E-6 Technical Sergeant Brandon (BJ) Richard, a 1996 River View graduate who performed as a member of the Air Force Band of the West from the Lackland Air Force Base.

“All the presidents are required to have a state funeral plan,” said Richard. “Wherever the family decides where they will be interred at whatever location, we all have a geographical location we’re responsible for. Every single branch of the military was involved musically with the Honor Guard. All of us had a small part and each band performed their part.”

Richard is the section leader of percussion in the Air Force Band of the West and has been playing for the past 30 years. He took music lessons at Glass Music in Coshocton.

“It was an absolute honor and a privilege to be chosen to perform at the funeral and for the processional that preceded and followed the funeral,” he said. “It was an honor and privilege, and very emotional, but everyone was professional. It was amazing how everything ran smoothly and everyone put their best foot forward. Everything that the band did, they were 110 percent the entire time.”

Unfortunately, due to the timing of Bush’s passing, some of the band’s holiday performances had to be canceled, but military bands are ready to perform at a moment’s notice for events such as this which takes years of planning.

“As far as preparations, these are prepared years in advance,” he said. “There is no stone unturned. We prepare for years and knew exactly what we needed to do.”

Every detail is planned and executed perfectly, even if last-minute adjustments have to be made.

“When the Honor Guard takes the casket out of the hearse or puts it in the hearse, we were there three days early preparing for it and we had it down to the minute and the second,” said Richard. “It rained and we had to adjust a little bit, stand at attention a little bit longer.”

The band performed as Bush lay in repose in Houston, as family and friends were entering the church and the processional out of the church, and then finally at the burial in College Station.

The songs the band performed were all hymns. One song was “God of our Fathers”, chosen specifically by the Bush family. The band played the melody until the song was taken over by the Army chorus as the Navy performed a “missing man” formation with 21 aircrafts. They flew in groups of four until the last set when one peeled away, signifying the loss of an aviator.

“It was absolutely emotional and overwhelming,” said Richard.

The band also performed “Ruffles and Flourishes”, which is a requirement for all past and current presidents.

Richard said he will always remember how the nation came together on the day of Bush’s funeral to mourn the loss of a president of the United States.

“No matter what our differences, we all came together as a nation,” he said. “We were all a part of history. I could make a small imprint to give him a proper and military burial. He was a great man, a great president, and it was a great experience for his family and for us.”

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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