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Honor guard member marks 3,000 funeral services for the brave

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Posted at 4:01 PM, Jan 17, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Tony Acevedo has arguably one of the most recognizable faces in the Coastal Bend. But how he received all the unsolicited notoriety, is for an act not many of us would be willing to do.

A few days ago. Tony hit a major milestone while serving with the Memorial Service Detachment (the honor guard) at the Coastal Bend State Cemetery. 3,000 burials of our brave.
That’s an average of one service per day for 11-years. Only one other person has done that at that cemetery: Bill McClintock, in 2022.

With all of that dedicated service, he’s likely to run into people waiting to thank him.

“I was going through the airport, and we were going somewhere. Some guy comes up and hugs me and I said … 'okay' … He said 'thank you thank you very much,'” recalled Tony.

Tony gives all the credit for his extended service to teamwork and partnerships.

“We do it from our hearts,” said Tony.

When he says “we”, he means his wife of 39-years, Letty, and his fellow honor guard members.

Letty admits that she didn’t expect Tony to serve more than a few years, but eventually, she came to understand his eternal commitment.

“The first one (burial service that Tony served), he kept telling me about it. He (the deceased veteran) came in a cardboard box, and no one was there. No one. So that was hard,” said Letty.

Years ago, Tony served on another team … A combat team in the Vietnam war.
He recalled returning home with no thanks and no hero's welcome. That stuck with him.

Tony continued his service and retired after 30 years from the Corpus Christi Police Department.

After retiring, it was only natural for Tony to join one more team: the honor guard.
It’s a place pride is abundant and tears flow like a river.

“When they (families) cry, I cry. When they laugh, I laugh,” said Tony.

No doubt, service runs deep in his Tony’s heart. Not even a heart attack a few years ago could keep him from folding the flag for our fallen.

When CCPD police officer Alan McCollum was killed by a drunk driver during a January 31, 2020, traffic stop, the honor guard was there providing a proper burial for the Iraq / Afghanistan war veteran.

McCollum’s cousin Crystal Rodriquez remembers Tony for his service.

“It's good to know that there's somebody out there that's gonna do that. To just be there to make sure it goes smoothly … that they are honored the way they should be,” said Crystal.”

Even at 3,000 military burial services, Tony is not ready to hang up his beret (part of his honor guard uniform) anytime soon.

“I can't tell you. There'll be some more,” said Tony.

We thank him for his service, and if you’d like to as well, you know where to find him: among heroes.

To join the Memorial Services Detachment, click here to see if you qualify.

More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.

Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at pat.simon@kristv.com