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Honored to Serve

September 11, 2019

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

The department recognizes the need for its employees to represent at recognition ceremonies, memorial services, and other public events. The Honor Guard was established in 1988 at the Washington State Penitentiary. Today, there are seven prison facilities that maintain an active Honor Guard.

Charles Richardson has been working for the agency for 24 years after spending 15 years in the Army. In 2000, he heard that the honor guard had just started at the Washington Corrections Center and knew he wanted to join. Members of the Honor Guard train once a month for eight hours. This includes drills, folding flags, and posting colors. It’s an extra commitment, but Richardson doesn’t do it for himself.

“I’ve sat and I’ve had dinner with some of the families. We’ve sat and stayed at some of the same hotels and sat around with the families and talked to them. They’re really honored that we are there for them,” said Richardson.

Emergency Operations Chief Greg Miller supervises the seven honor guards across the state. The team attends core graduations, line of duty death ceremonies, as well as agency celebrations. Honor guard members have been sent to every service for a corrections line of duty death across the county since the death of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl in 2011.

“They get a chance to give back to the agencies, they get a chance to show their professionalism,” said Miller.

Having an honor guard helps the department in its mission to improve public safety by encouraging positive community interaction, a key value of the department.