A Brief History of the Billerica Police Department Honor Guard
The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard was established in the early 1970’s by a corps of dedicated officers who wished to form a unit to represent the Police Department during ceremonies in the community and to exhibit the utmost respect for those that have died in the service of others. Not only did they set about acquiring all the flags, rifles and the special equipment necessary, they also created a distinctive patch and uniforms which remain largely unchanged to this day. This group of men laid the groundwork for what has become one of the proudest and longest serving special units in the Billerica Police Department.
The early members were largely all veterans of the armed forces, and they trained by themselves, meeting to perform drill and ceremony training in their off time. During the 1980’s as new members joined the Honor Guard, and original members retired or moved on, the unit recognized the need for professional training. They enlisted the help of Retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant William J. Bradley Jr. MGySgt Bill Bradley was a Billerica resident and the Senior Military Instructor for Billerica High School’s Marine Corps Junior ROTC program. Bradley, during his over 20 years in the Marine Corps, was a combat veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. He also served as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, S.C., and went on to become an instructor at Marine Corps Drill Instructor School. Under his tutelage he helped the Billerica Police Honor Guard become one of the most well trained units in the area. The Honor Guard mourned his passing in August 1997 and were there to render honors to him as he was laid to rest. The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard owes a debt of gratitude to the men who helped found the unit, mold it, and carry it through its early days.
The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard Mission Statement
The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard was founded to serve as the ceremonial arm of the Billerica Police Department. The mission of the Billerica Police Department Honor Guard is to represent the Billerica Police Department at funerals, parades, ceremonial functions, and other special events. The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard serves at the discretion of the Chief of Police. The Honor Guard will represent the Billerica Police Department and serve as ambassadors of the Town of Billerica at events on the local, state, and national level. The Honor Guard will establish ceremonial protocols for official functions that the Billerica Police Department participates in. The Honor Guard will render honors to deceased department personnel, local officials and service members whenever possible. The Honor Guard will endeavor to render honors and provide support to members of the Law Enforcement and public safety community killed in the line of duty, wherever the need may occur. The Billerica Police Department Honor Guard and its members strive to represent the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, and dedication to duty.
The Honor Guard Today
In addition to presenting the national colors at the town’s annual Memorial Day and Yankee Doodle Homecoming parades, and rendering honors at funeral services of deceased police department personnel and town dignitaries, members of the Honor Guard have traveled extensively to represent the Billerica Police Department. Its members have participated in Line of Duty death services for police officers throughout New England and New York. They have participated in National Police Week events in Washington, DC and been invited to participate in St Patrick’s Day festivities in Providence, RI as well as Greenwich, CT, and the Yankee Homecoming Parade in Newburyport, MA. In 2012 several members of the Honor Guard traveled to Washington D.C. where they received advanced training in drill and ceremonies from the Marine Corps’ Drill Master at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. Link to story
Current Honor Guard Members:
Ptl Donald Boulette – USMC
Lt Roy Frost
Ptl John Harrring
Sgt Mark Gualtieri – USAF
Ptl Michael Henckler – USCG
Lt Greg Katz – USAF
Paramedic John Keough
Ptl Glen Magnan
Ptl Don MacEachern – USAF
Lt Troy Opland
Ptl Ed Peterson – USA
Paramedic Rick Souza – USMC
Sgt William West
The Yankee Doodle Homecoming Parade and Honor Guard Competition
In 2008 members of the Honor Guard sought to increase participation in the town’s annual homecoming parade and to create a fun and competitive event that other police honor guards could participate in. The first annual Yankee Doodle Police Parade and Honor Guard Competition was conceived. In the end more than 30 police departments participated including units from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia. Units were judged and awards were given in various categories including Drill Precision, Best Uniforms, Best Patrol Car, Largest Contingent, Furthest Traveled, and the Yankee Doodle Award. Since 2008, over 70 different law enforcement agencies have participated in the parade.
2012 Award Winners
1st Place – Lexington Police Department
2nd Place – Federal Protective Service; Washington, DC
3rd Place – Springfield Police Department
Quincy Police Department
Federal Protective Service; Washington, DC
Yankee Doodle Award
South Portland, ME Police Department
Winchester Police Department