Maj. Jim Vigar, 399th Composite Squadron commander, waits with Cadet 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Bell; and Cadet Staff Sgt. Scott Padron for the first overnight honor guard watch.
Photo by Capt. Peter Milano, Connecticut Wing
Capt. Peter Milano
Public Affairs Officer
399th Composite Squadron
CONNECTICUT – Members of the 399th Composite Squadron served as an honor guard over an archaeological dig in Danbury’s Wooster Cemetery, where the remains of Albert Afraid of Hawk were being exhumed for return to his family in South Dakota.
Albert Afraid of Hawk, of the Oglala Lakota tribe, was born about 1879 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He traveled as a performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which was in Danbury on June 28, 1900.
After the show, he and other performers became ill from what is suspected to have been food poisoning, though he alone succumbed to the illness.
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody paid for the performer’s grave, which remained unmarked and unknown until 2008, when cemetery records were found identifying the site. On Aug. 15, after days of digging, Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas F. Bellantoni unearthed Afraid of Hawk’s remains.
At that point Maj. Jim Vigar, commander of the 399th squadron, was contacted by the Danbury mayor’s office for support to ensure the integrity of the site.
Over four nights, on 12-hour shifts, cadets and officers stood watch over Afraid of Hawk’s remains.
“It has been an honor for our squadron to be able to assist in the return of Albert to his family,” Vigar said.
"This is a perfect example of service before self. Cadet and senior members of the 399th Danbury Composite Squadron stepped up to serve, knowing how important this was to Albert’s family.”