TEAGUE, Texas (KWTX) U.S. Navy Seaman Hayden Roberts, a 2017 Teague High School graduate who was part of the ceremonial honor guard that stood watch over the casket of former President George H.W. Bush at St. MartIn's Episcopal Church in Houston, said he had a job to do and it was one he had to do to perfection.
U.S. Navy Seaman Hayden Roberts (right). (Pool photo)
“It was to honor him and to represent the Navy in every sense of the word, represent what I do for my country and for my job,” he said Thursday.
"I was thinking about everything possible just kind of passed the time kind of listening to the stories, George Bush's (eulogy). That really touched me,” he said.
"At the beginning I was kind of shaky a little bit with my hand, but once I sat there and started thinking about other things, I was thinking back to my father thinking, back to memories from home."
Roberts enlisted in the Navy after graduation, but right before he left for boot camp learned that his father Mike, 45 had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.
His father died a few weeks later.
Roberts returned to boot camp after the funeral and finished among the top of his class of 800 recruits and was chosen for the Navy Honor Guard and stationed in Washington, D.C.
"I'll think of it as if it's my own father's funeral and just go to that place of solace and just zone out and do what I need to do,” he said earlier.
He called his mother, Angie Roberts, this week to tell her he would be part of the honor guard standing watch over the former president’s casket.
“That's just Hayden, you know he's driven and he's really driven because he wants to make his dad proud of him and he and his Dad were really close,” she said.
"You know he's the baby but everyone is so proud of him. We always knew Hayden was going to do great things."
As the youngest of six in his family, Roberts said he hopes his special assignment will inspire others.
"It really tells me that being better person, being a better man for my family for my country my coworkers my friends can help them out and they can see maybe they can even push themselves to be better."
Roberts played football, baseball and was a member of the band at Teague High School