137 days ago, I was standing at the Strang/Grayslake funeral home, and I was standing there again today, briefly. I didn't break anything this time.

Kenneth Worthey was 65, two years older than I am. Unlike me, Ken was a Viet Nam veteran. This is a propaganda poster urging Viet Cong to defect lest they be consumed by the Black Horse Brigade, Ken's unit.




There were nine of us at the beginning of the visitation, counting me. A majority of us arrived on bikes.

Others would arrive later, and they are not depicted, but these are the eight:

Tomorrow, the escort to Ken's place of final rest.





I mounted the 5 by 8 on the bike and left for Grayslake. Nine bikes took places around the hearse and waited at the funeral home. At 10:45 the casket was carried out of the building, past our flagline which was surrounded by the other guests, and into the hearse. Grayslake police helped us move the two blocks to the church.













We waited outside the Catholic Church while the Requiem Mass was conducted inside. Usually we know a few minutes before it will end, but this time we were taken by surprise. The flags were leaning against the building from our flagline when the casket and family entered the building, but now the casket suddenly appeared in the doorway again.

Conversation stopped in mid-sentence and we ran, first to the flags and then to our positions. Fortunately, the mourners followed the casket, so we were in position before they emerged. Big Dave (we need a new name for him) snapped us to attention and then to salute. The funeral director arranged the pallbearers. The guests surrounded our formation. And then the remains of Ken Worthey were placed in the rear of the hearse for his final ride.

















Usually I stand in the cemetery with a flag. Sometimes I stand off and photograph from a distance. This time I was given the great honor of reading and presenting the ILPGR plaque. Dave told me exactly what to do, exactly when I needed to know, and it went smoothly.

A few hours earlier, Ken's wife had approached our group, introduced herself and thanked us. A few minutes later, Ken's son did the same. This afternoon, I kneeled before that wife and son just as I had seen army colonels and navy captains do many times before. I remember the last words I read:

“...that Specialist Five Kenneth W. Worthley, United States Army Vietnam Veteran, is an American Hero.”