Robbed of a 21-gun salute. That's the experience of one Central Coast family after the only honor guard team in our tri-county area was robbed.
We went to the VFW Post in Freedom to find out why there's more sentimental value to the stolen guns than value as weapons.
"They came in here, they pried open this closet door," said VFW Post 1716 Commander David Ambriz.
Ambriz said about a week ago, he and his fellow honor guard members were preparing for a funeral in Felton. When they showed up to the post, they discovered the entire gun case carrying 10 M1 Garand rifles, weighing 600 to 700 pounds, had been wheeled out the front door.
Watsonville Police said they deal with a few stolen gun cases every year, and a rifle ending up in the wrong hands can be deadly because guns are like trophies for gang members. But these rifles aren't what they seem. Whoever got away with these rifles won't be able to shoot ammunition out of them anyway, because they're retrofitted to shoot blanks.
"In an event that somebody tries to put the live round in there, they're gonna be very surprised because it will blow up. It will cause serious damage not only to the rifle but also to the person," Ambriz said.
Ambriz said the honor guard still made it to the funeral. But the family didn't get to hear a 21-gun salute -- a right he said every veteran deserves.
"It means an awful lot to the family. They're very, very grateful to us when we do that, and it comes from the heart," Ambriz said.
The VFW Post said it's working to get replacements from the government. But for now, they're covering their bases by borrowing rifles from local posts.