'Priceless experience': New City man shares experience on Bush's Honor Guard

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NEW CITY -

Over a week after the nation said farewell to President George H.W. Bush, a military serviceman from New City is speaking about his experience as part of his Honor Guard.

Michael Pata is a volunteer firefighter in Nanuet and a U.S. Army Staff sergeant. He says he is still in disbelief that he was chosen to stand at the head of President Bush's casket in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol last week.

"Everything was silent commands so there was a lot of training for that, especially with the army syncing with different branches because everybody does something a little bit different," says Pata.

He also says his nerves were exceptionally high.

"I could feel my heart beat through my throat," says Pata. "I was like, ‘I don't want to mess up. Everything needs to be absolutely perfect so I could honor the president in the absolute most professional way.’"

Pata served multiple tours in Afghanistan and is a Full Honors Casket Team Leader, conducting casket bearer missions for fallen service men and women at Arlington National Cemetery and Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

"Having a brother or sister there next to you that served our country and having them bring you back home if something was ever to happen -- it's just an honor to do that and it's an honor to be there with them and for the families to see that they have brothers and sisters there to help them," says Pata.

Pata says honoring President Bush, who enlisted in the Navy at 18, was a priceless experience, one he hopes to share with many generations to come.

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