By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Roger Bayak says he is proud to be a veteran and he’s helped other veterans through the years.
In 2009 and 2010, he helped honor local World War II veterans by planning a trip to Washington D.C., “so they could view their memorial,” Bayak said.
“My goal for 2013 is to plan a similar trip for local Korea and Vietnam veterans so they can be honored and view their memorials,” Bayak said.
The veteran served in the 38th Infantry Division in the United States Army from 1958 to 1968.
He attempted to get into West Point and that didn’t work out for him.
“So I went home,” Bayak said. “People felt sorry for me, but I told them the Good Lord made that decision because four years later, God gave me my wife, Marilyn, and it will be 50 years this year.”
He became involved with the VFW and seven years ago took charge of the Goshen Veterans Honor Guard.
“I can’t think of a group I admire more than the Goshen Veterans Honor Guard,” he said, smiling.
The Honor Guard consists of approximately 24 members from VFW Post 985, American Legion Post 30 and D.A.V. Chapter 15, but the numbers fluctuate, he added.
“We lost four in the last few years. We have 18 guys active when they can make it and to have a dignified service for a veteran, the ideal number is 12,” Bayak said. “We make it work even if we don’t.”
The Honor Guard has presented more than 800 services since 2002 and had its 50th service last Monday. The group’s average low has been 35 and their highest has been 83 services, he added.
The members have held three services in one day as well as holding services three days in a row. They had a service at 2 p.m. on Mother’s Day this year and went for a period of time during two separate months without holding any services.
“Then at one period, we had 14 services in 19 days,” Bayak said.
When he’s not busy with the Honor Guard, he volunteers as a tour guide for the Studebaker National Museum and the Oliver Mansion at the Northern Indiana Center for History in South Bend. He also volunteers his time for helping local seniors.
“There are a lot of senior citizens who can’t do things for themselves and my personal aim is to help them if they need it, it’s my own goal,” he said. “I don’t know of another person on this planet who has had more blessings than me. The proudest experience I ever had is being part of the Goshen Veterans Honor Guard.”