A 19-year-old Indiana soldier will serve as one of the Honor Guards during former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral services this week.
Bolbi Amptmeyer, grew up in St. John and is a private in the U.S. Army serving in the Honor Guard unit which performs ceremonial duties while soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Amptmeyer told the Times of Northwest Indiana that he heard pounding on his barracks door at Fort Meyer Saturday morning and was told he would be working through the weekend with his unit to get ready for Bush’s funeral services.
Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Friday at the age of 94. Amptmeyer’s unit was also involved in former President Ronald Reagan’s funeral services in 2004.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Amptmeyer told the newspaper. "My unit last did it 14 years ago. It's crazy to think I was just in high school last year and will lay to rest an ex-president. This is something not many people get to do."
Amptmeyer heard from a representative of the U.S. Army Old Guard while he was going through basic training about serving in the Honor Guard. He applied for a position in the prestigious unit and was accepted due to his high scores in physical training and military testing: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores.
He’s laid to rest about 60 soldiers and veterans working as an escort, he told the Times.
"It's humbling to honor those who died or served their country," he told the paper. "It's amazing, day in and day out."
He marched Monday with other units from the Marines, Airforce and Navy where Bush will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol under guard until Wednesday morning. Amptmeyer and his comrades will then march with the former president’s casket before it is flown to Texas where he will finally be buried next to his wife Barbara Bush who died in April at the age of 92.
Amptmeyer told the newspaper he and his unit have been preparing for the somber duty all weekend.
"For an ex-president, I want to make sure it will be the best uniform I've ever had," he told the Times. "I've been steaming out any wrinkles, making sure the brass is all shiny. Everybody's a little stressed. We need to be presentable. There are a lot of newer guys in my company, and now we're going to be the escort element in a state funeral, marching in front of the Capitol Building."
His mother, his grandparents and other family members said they will watch for Amptmeyer as he marches Monday.
"I'll probably find him right away," Kristie Hussey, his mother, told the Times. "We're beyond excited. I'm just so proud of him."