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Serving with honor and pride

  • Published
  • By Rosario Urquieta
  • 63rd Readiness Division

In honor of veterans and their families, the city of Palo Alto conducted their third annual Veterans Day recognition ceremony in Palo Alto’s City Hall council chambers, on the evening of Nov. 6, 2017.

Packed with local community leaders, patrons, military personnel, and retired veterans the council chambers was buzzing with energy and excitement. Some of the key leaders and local organizations participating in the event included Senator Jerry Hill, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s field representative Scott Ammon, Assembly Member Marc Berman’s office representative Leslie Bulbuk, Col. Daniel Lapostole, 129th Air National Guard Rescue Wing, Col. Lewis Knapp, 63rd Readiness Division Congressional Legislative Liaison under the U.S. Army Reserve, and more.

Along with key leaders and local community organization representatives, there was music played by the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, presentation of The Colors by the 63d RD's Colonial Color Guard of Team Valkyrie, and the Historical Recognition Team of Team Valkyrie presenting Soldiers through Time.

 Team Valkyrie’s specialty teams participate in a multitude of engagements ranging from rendering honors to veterans who have passed, to color guard presentations, occasional parades, and other engagements which demonstrate the pride of the U.S. Army Reserve for this great nation.

“Our specialty teams conduct about 30 events throughout the year. The types of events we engage in are mostly community relation events such as: Color Guard, Historical Recognition, and assisting local recruiting,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lee Carranza, Team Valkyrie Non-Commission Officer in Charge. He continued on, “Our team also conducts training events to teach U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers how to conduct funeral honors throughout the 63rd RD area of operations.”

Team Valkyrie is unique because unlike most honor guard teams which conduct funeral honors, this team has two additional teams underneath it.

“What makes Team Valkyrie different from other honor guard teams is that in addition to this great honor we have our specialty teams. Our Colonial Color Guard is one of a kind in the western region of the U.S. that is made up of Army Reserve Soldiers,” said Carranza, then continued on, “We also have a Historical Recognition Team (HRT) that conducts appearances at special events to represent Soldiers of the past.”

Team Valkyrie’s mission statement within its paragraph states that the team provides dignity and reverence during funerals to those who’ve served while providing closure to their loved ones, and that while they do focus on funerals, the dedication of the team goes beyond their main mission.

“Honoring Soldiers past and present is a corner stone of what we do. That means that when we are not conducting funerals or training for them we are honoring Soldiers in other ways. We represent Soldiers that have come before us and help to tell that Army story. We tell the Army stories that have been lost to history. Each member of the team is part of the team by choice. They volunteer to do what we do, take the long hours, donate time when needed and are willing to step up when others cannot. None of them are assigned, they are there because they want to be. Each member of our team is proud of what we do and what we represent,” said Carranza.

Team Valkyrie was formed around 2008 by Staff Sgt. Clarence Johns and was led by him until 2015. In 2015 when Johns left, Carranza took over as the enlisted key leader for the team. Carranza continued to instill the importance of rendering honors to those who have passed away after serving this country, Carranza began to expand on the idea of what other avenues Team Valkyrie could take to honor veterans and show their pride in serving.

“I can only speak on where the team is now and what we do today. The team is like a family, and everybody pulls their weight and looks out for one another. The members of the team are each held to a high standard and are all mentored to be leaders,” said Carranza.

Team Valkyrie and it’s specialty teams operate out of March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif., and Mountain View, Calif., but are able to participate in engagements across the entire area of responsibility that falls under the 63d RD.
“They are some of the best troops I've worked with in years,” said Carranza.