Vietnam vet’s mission of honor rolls on

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NEWINGTON--A Connecticut Vietnam veteran who is still on active duty likes to honor those who have served and have passed on.

U.S. Marine Richard Kowalker, 66, and his horse have been to more than 700 funerals for veterans, performing the Riderless Horse ceremony, which is symbolic of a fallen warrior.

Even though his horse trailer was destroyed in a crash about three weeks ago, Kowalker and his horse, with another horse in tow and in training, made the overnight trek on horseback from Middlefield to Wethersfield for the funeral of Norman Varney. Varney, 90, fought at Iwo Jima.

On Thursday, however, Kowalker got a surprise: a new horse trailer, with a custom paint job. The new vehicle came from Turnpike Motors Autobody in Newington, and was donated to him to help him and his horses keep the mission of honoring fallen heroes going.

"I don't have words to describe what it means, I wouldn't change a thing about it," Kowalker said about his new trailer.  "It'll be nice to look in my rear view mirror and know that this is here."

The Hoffman Auto Group matched the money raised to help pay for the new horse trailer.