ANDERSON — A little more than a month ago Garnet Hanley led a Veterans Day parade through downtown Anderson as the grand marshal.
Hanley died Tuesday at AnMed Health Medical Center. He was 85.
Hanley was a decorated World War II veteran, a retired sheriff’s deputy and chaplain at the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home. During the war, he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles, a unit better known today as the inspiration for the books and television series “Band of Brothers.”
Hanley was a constant source of comfort to families who came to bury their loved ones at the M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Cemetery, cemetery superintendent Larry Montandon said.
“I cannot quote exactly what Garnet told loved ones at funerals,” Montandon said. “But he would lean in and it goes something like this: ‘I cannot stand here today and tell you I am sorry for your loss because when someone believes in the Lord, there is no sickness or sorrow. They are not lost.’ ”
Hanley was the chaplain at the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson for 17 years.
Hanley also was a member of the Campbell Patriot Honor Guard and carried the flag countless times for others. Now it is time for the honor guard to carry it for him.
“We’ve had a few honor guard members pass but Garnet and I were charter members,” said Ken Klinsky, commander of the American Legion Post 184, based at the Campbell nursing home.
Klinsky and Hanley founded the Campbell Patriots Honor Guard nearly 11 years ago.
“Dec. 22, 1999, is when we started and God only knows how many (funerals) we’ve done since then,” Klinsky said.
Klinsky described Hanley as being unable to put himself before others.
“He was a good guy but always on the go,” Klinsky said. “There were a lot of times I’d say you shouldn’t be out in that bad weather in his age. But then again, I’m getting old — I’m going to be 80 in May — and there’s weather I shouldn’t be out in either.”
Montandon echoed Klinsky: “Garnet was down here continually; whenever he was able and he was down here even when he wasn’t able, he was so committed.”
Klinsky said that Hanley wanted to be out in the weather, for the veterans.
“We got a job to do and we’re going to do it,” Klinsky said. “These veterans are entitled to it. They’re more than entitled to it. They should get the best and we try to do the best for them.”
Among the many recognitions Hanley received were three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his military service. After those fights were done, Hanley worked with veterans and it was for that post-war service that he was given South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto in 1995 by then-Gov. David Beasley.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper Jr. said he joined the force after Hanley had left but knew and respected Hanley because of his community service and work with veterans and law enforcement officials.
Deputy Chief Carl Anderson worked at the sheriff’s office with Hanley in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Hanley was a lieutenant and shift supervisor.
“He was a good officer. He classified himself as a peace officer,” Anderson said. “He was the perfect servant; he would go the extra mile to do anything and not just for people in the jail. He was a hard worker and just a good officer.”
Six years ago Hanley received yet another award, a 50-year Masonic Blue Lodge pin.
The latest honor came after his death.
A proclamation by the Anderson County Council expresses sadness at Hanley’s death and appreciation for his service to the country and to the county’s veterans.
Klinsky said that when he and Hanley formed the honor guard, there was not much recognition for veterans in the area.
The honor guard met Wednesday to discuss how to show respect for Hanley. It will have guards flanking Hanley’s coffin during the funeral Friday.
“You know, the government wasn’t’ doing much at all in 1999,” Klinsky said. “So we went to a funeral one day and there was a guy laying there and the flag still on the coffin folded. We said to each other, we gotta form an honor guard.”
Garnet Hanley, During the war, he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles
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