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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2023

Pennsylvania Air National Guardsman Honors the Fallen

By Jodi Snyder, 171st Air Refueling Wing

PITTSBURGH - An Airman from the 171st Air Refueling Wing honors fallen veterans by cleaning headstones and placing wreaths on their graves during the holiday season.

Tech Sgt. Robert Hasenflu, an aircraft mechanic at the 171st ARW, has volunteered for the past six years to support the efforts of volunteer organizations to commemorate those who served.

“It brings joy to my heart,” said Hasenflu. “It’s something that I really feel good about doing.”

For five years, Hasenflu has volunteered at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville. He partners with Wreaths Across America to ensure members of the armed forces are remembered.

“After the first time that I volunteered, I wanted to be an advocate. I just felt like a lot of people don’t know about their efforts,” said Hasenflu. “So I became a sponsorship group leader and signed up for a website through Wreaths Across America to try and get more wreaths donated.”

While laying the wreaths is important, Hasenflu adds a special touch to each grave after all the wreaths are laid.

“It’s for honoring people so you want it to look as good as possible, so for me, it is the attention to detail. Each wreath has to be placed just right, so if I need to take the time to straighten and fluff a ribbon, that’s what I’ll do,” said Hasenflu.

In addition to placing wreaths on graves, Hasenflu also volunteers to clean headstones. Most recently, he volunteered at a ceremony paying tribute to all those who died on 9/11.

“It was very humbling. Cleaning the headstones in such a quiet place creates time for you to take a moment to reflect,” said Hasenflu. “I feel like remembering those who are gone is a small, little thing that we can do to show we are proud of our country.”



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