LAWTON, OK (RNN Texoma) - Fort Sill honored Former President George H.W. Bush today by firing a 21-gun salute. The former commander in chief died Friday at the age of 94.
Every half hour from 6:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., soldiers fired off one round to honor the 41st president. The shots could be heard across Fort Sill and served as a reminder for soldiers and their spouses to remember the late president.
Lt. Col. Lazander Tomlinson, Commander of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery, said this is the first time they’ve done a 21-gun salute of this significance at Fort Sill since 2006 when former President Gerald Ford died.
“It’s about remembering the man, but it’s also about remembering the greater responsibility of the office of the president, and recognizing that both here in Fort Sill Oklahoma and the greater Lawton Oklahoma area,” he said.
It hits close to home for 1st Sgt. Mark Reid who joined the Army under President Bush. He was later deployed to Desert Storm.
"To have his passing and to be a part of this is very, very special to me," 1st. Sgt. Reid said. "By him being the president, not knowing at age 18, but now as you get older, get more mature you understand the significance it is to basically be a part of this occasion."
Fort Sill is home to one of only two salute batteries in the United States Army. Other military installations are doing the 21-gun salute, but they might not have the same equipment as soldiers on Fort Sill do. Both Lt. Col. Tomlinson and 1st Sgt. Reid said they want soldiers in the battalion they're in to understand the significance of this.
1st Sgt. Reid said he learned a lot from how the former president acted, and tries to apply some of the things he learned. He said few traits really stand out to him.
"Leadership, the leadership that he had with the nation and with him being the commanding chief," he said. "The no-nonsense attitude."
This is the first of three 21-gun salutes Fort Sill will do. On Thursday, when President Bush is laid to rest, they will have a 21-gun salute to the office of the president at noon, and at 5 p.m., there will be a 50-gun salute for all states in the union.
While he’s being remembered on Fort Sill, soldiers from Fort Sill’s 77th Army Band are in Houston. They played during the former president’s sendoff today, and they’ll be there when he returns Thursday.