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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2004

Ceremony had local man's full attention

Those who watched coverage of ceremonies honoring former President Ronald Reagan probably noticed the military guards standing at attention near the casket.

A Toledo-area mother and father have been watching with even greater interest because their son, Michael Behrendt of Swanton, is one of those guards.

Mr. Behrendt, 21, joined the Navy last year and was selected to go through ceremonial guard training. Based at Bolling Air Force Base in the Washington, D.C. area, he's spent much of his time participating in funerals for veterans at Arlington National Cemetery and taking part in parades and other functions.

Last Saturday, he and a select few other members of his unit got the call to head to California to take part in ceremonies at the Reagan presidential library, and he's been there for the last week.

He was also scheduled to take part in ceremonies when the former president's casket returned to California yesterday for burial.

The guards take half-hour shifts throughout the day.

"I'm very, very proud of him," said his father, Jay Behrendt of Swanton.

Mr. Behrendt's mother, Sheri Ulinski, lives in Oregon, where he graduated from Clay High School.

Jay Behrendt said he's been thrilled to see his son on TV.

"Every time he got off duty, he'd call me and say, 'Did you see me?' I said, 'Give me a little smile,' but he said, 'Dad, they'll kick my butt if I do that.'‚óŹ"

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