Iowa man serves as Rev. Billy Graham's pallbearer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa man serves as Rev. Billy Graham's pallbearer

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -

As the world watched as the casket that held Reverend Billy Graham was carried into the U.S. Capitol after his death, one former eastern Iowa man had a bit closer of a view, as one of Graham's pallbearers.

Prior to his 8th grade year, Caleb Runquist moved to the small town of Wellman, Iowa (population: 1,408) in Washington County where he graduated from Mid-Prairie High School in 2016 before he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He did so not knowing he'd be a part of history so early on in his career.

At the age of 99, Rev. Graham died. He was an internationally known faith leader that ministered for presidents, both Republican and Democratic. On February, 28, he would become only the fourth person to ever be honored in the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda following Rosa Parks and two U.S. Capital Police officers that were killed in the line of duty.

Making those historic steps into the Rotunda with Graham was Runquist, who served as his back right body bearer.

"I don't think it's set in yet," Runquist said. "I can't really describe the feeling. It was one I've never really felt before. It was amazing."

Runquist was selected to be a part of the rare tribute among the top body bearers from each military branch.

"I was shocked. In disbelief that I would actually be able to take part in history or to be a body bearer for the late Reverend Graham that I grew up listening to," he said.

Runquist is an infantryman in the Army, but his main job is being a body bearer. He said the honor that he felt being a part of Graham's ceremony is an honor he feels in every service he does.

 "It's the biggest honor I've had in my life. Some of the war heroes that have come back you don't know what they've gone through but their families do and to participate in that funeral and knowing how much somebody loved them and how much they've done for this country and to give them the right full honors that they deserve, that's something that is very hard to explain," he said.

Training as body bearers is something Runquist and the men that served by his side during the ceremony do often and meticulously. He said they knew millions of people would be watching their every move but it doesn't phase them.

"My instincts took over. We practice all the time so instincts take over but afterward my family texted me saying how proud of me they are of me and that's when I really noticed how big of a deal it was," he said.

President Donald Trump, among other political leaders, attended the ceremony. The late reverend was buried on March 2, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Powered by Frankly