Houma native serves on Reagan honor guard

The Courier (Houma, La.), 11th June, 2004

Jeffrey Bueche, a Houma native, represented the U.S. Coast Guard during a memorial service held Wednesday at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. to honor the late former President Ronald Reagan.

The 29-year-old Bueche continued to stand at the head of the 40th chief executive’s flag-draped casket Wednesday night and will again today at 5 p.m. He will also take part in Reagan's state funeral service at the National Cathedral on Friday. The state funeral will be the first of its kind since 1973.

Bueche, the presidential honor guard's joint service non-commissioned officer, leads a group of representatives from each military branch that will watch over Reagan's casket until the former president's body is flown back to California for burial at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

"I can't begin to tell you how honored I am to be doing this," said Bueche, an admirer of Reagan and his political policies since childhood. "This is probably the most significant event I've ever done and ever will do."

Some members of the honor guard were sent to California early in the week to participate in previous ceremonies, while others stayed in Washington, D.C. for the later services. Bueche chose to work the late shift at the U.S. Capitol to be close to home with his wife and two children.

Bueche said he is thrilled at the opportunity to guard Reagan’s casket in the U.S. Capitol, but he is mainly looking forward to leading the honor guards when Reagan’s casket will be flown to the Reagan Library on Friday. He will head the group that boards the casket onto the Boeing 747 plane.

Bueche said he and the members of the honor guard have been prepared for Reagan's funeral ceremonies for about a year. The guards practiced last summer in 29 Palms, Ca.

"It's our job to be ready at a minute's notice," Bueche said. "We thought about the possibility of President Reagan's death, but it wasn't just for him. We have to be prepared for any presidential funeral."

Bueche graduated from Vandebilt Catholic High School in 1993 before attending Nicholls State University for a couple years. But after taking several classes, he decided that college was not for him and joined the U.S. Coast Guard.

He spent time in New York and Texas until he received a four-year assignment last year to serve on the presidential honor guard. He moved to the Washington, D.C. area and has since participated in many national patriotic ceremonies.

Bueche’s mother, Jan Bueche, said her son’s participation in historically significant events such as serving on the Reagan honor guard reflects his growing maturity, overcoming rebellious teenage years.

"We really consider this an honor for him and the family," Jan Bueche said. "He's come a long way, and the military has done wonders for him and opened many opportunities to succeed. This is something he'll be able to tell his grandchildren about."

While Bueche agrees with his mother about the significance of this week’s events, he also said he cannot wait until he can finally get some sleep.

"Since President Reagan's passing on Saturday, we've been training all day and all night every day," Bueche said. “It’s all worth it, but I’m only running on adrenaline at this point.”