NORTHGLENN, Colo. – A local group of veterans is stepping up to make sure a veteran mistakenly killed by Aurora police has a proper military funeral.
Richard “Gary” Black shot a home intruder who was violently attacking his 11-year-old grandson in his home last week. Moments later, when police arrived, they say they shot Black because he did not respond to their commands to drop his gun. According to Black’s family, he has a severe hearing impairment due to the time he served in the military.
Black was in the Army and fought in Vietnam. He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
“When I heard about this, I just felt terrible for the family and what happened. And [thought] what can Post 22 do? And [what can] the guys do?” Vietnam Veteran Richard Reeves told FOX31.
Reeves had never met Black but says he felt an instant connection because they both served in the same war.
“I just don’t want to leave anybody behind. And that’s how we’ve felt in the Marines. We never want to leave anybody behind. When we went and done anything, that was a feeling that we had. And I had this feeling for him. And I don’t want to leave him behind. I want to honor him and give him what we can do,” Reeves said.
Reeves is the Lieutenant for the Honor Guard based out of Northglenn’s American Legion Post 22. The group has volunteered to give Black a memorial service with full military honors.
“When we were in Vietnam or wherever we were fighting, our job then was to help those that couldn’t help themselves,” Post 22 Junior Vice Commander George Horgan told FOX31. “And today… we help those that can’t help themselves.”
Black will not be buried in Colorado. He is eligible for a military funeral wherever his final resting place is. However, the veterans from Post 22 believe he needs honors in Colorado too.
He will get a 21-gun salute, the playing of "Taps" and an American flag will be folded and presented to his wife.
"When I called her, she almost started bawling. She says, 'Oh my gosh. Thank you'," Horgan said.
The details of the memorial service in Colorado are still being finalized.
American Legion Post 22 is accepting donations for Richard “Gary” Black. 100 percent of the money raised in his name will be given to his family.
Donations must be specifically earmarked for Black. They can be mailed to or dropped off in-person at Post 22: 11081 Irma Dr., Northglenn, CO 80233.