It was pouring rain as Kenneth Varnes, a married father to a newborn girl, drove carefully down the highway in Killeen, Texas.
He was near his base at Fort Hood, the site of the horrific shooting in 2009 which killed 13 soldiers and wounded more than 30. Varnes knew the importance of sacrifice and service to country, and exemplified this in his work as a soldier on base.
As he continued to drive, he noticed something unusual approaching him on the highway. A convoy of vehicles with American flags draped in their windows signified a veteran’s funeral was coming his way.
That was when Varnes pulled his truck over, stood at attention in the pouring rain, and saluted his fallen brother in arms as the vehicles passed.
Zachary Rummings snapped a photo of the soldier standing in the rain to honor a fellow veteran and posted it to Facebook. He asked if anyone recognized the soldier and to let him know who it was so that he could tag him in the picture. “He stood in the rain the entire time and saluted,” Rummings wrote. “Hats off and respect to that young man. Thank you.”
After Varnes acknowledged it was him in the photo, the image went viral, with friends and family posting comments to the image commending him for his actions.
The boy’s father was particularly touched at his son’s actions, stating, ““I am so proud that my son has grew into a very well-mannered young man,his Mom and me taught him no matter what you do in life always have respect, I love you SON. Poppa would be proud of you Son, Young people need to pay attention to this and learn.”
Varnes for his part has downplayed his actions, proclaiming he would do this for any veteran, regardless if he knew them or not.
“I don’t care if they were 80 years old, they were in World War II, they were in Vietnam, they were in Iraq, I don’t care if they were 20. It’s a brotherhood.”