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Duty bound: He’s a one-man honor guard for Utah’s veterans

Bruce Clements attends scores of funerals each year to honor military vets.

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Clements said the most poignant funerals have been for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Not enough can be said or done to show the nation’s gratitude to the men and women who have fallen by the wayside in a combat zone," Clements said.

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He’s less philosophical about his own funeral plans. Clements said he has left his executor instructions to cremate him and place him in a plot next to his parents at Lake Hills Memorial Mortuary and Cemetery in Sandy. He has twin sisters, two children and five granddaughters and does not want them to provide him a funeral.

He said those wishes have to do with his days as a deputy sheriff. Clements said he too often had to insert himself into the lives of people who didn’t want him there.

"I’ve kind of had the attitude, ‘You know what, people have had enough of me,’ " he said.

At Sadler’s funeral Thursday in Draper, Clements dropped the salute after the casket passed, but he remained standing with the flag. Sadler retired as a deputy chief with the Unified Fire Authority, and UFA personnel supplied a color guard and a bagpiper. But an American flag over the casket, and Clements, were the only signs Sadler had served in the Army.

As the service was coming to an end and the bagpiper began playing "Amazing Grace," Clements marched with the Army flag to the end of the cemetery. He turned left-face and marched toward his motorcycle. Clements retracted the pole, rolled up the flag and put it back in the saddlebags.

He had put on his helmet when one of Sadler’s cousins, Elray Dow, walked over. Dow reached over the chain link fence separating a parking lot from the cemetery and shook Clements’ hand.

"Thank you, sir," Dow said.

"You’re welcome," Clements replied. "It’s an honor for me to be here."

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Twitter: @natecarlisle

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