Family of veteran seeks funeral honors, blocked by red tape
PHOENIX (AP) — Family members of a World War II veteran were attempting to give him military honors at his funeral on Veterans Day but were stymied by red tape over the paperwork needed by the U.S. government to perform the ceremony.
Glenn Richard Cook, 97, died last week, and the family did not know that certain paperwork was required for the military honors until they were informed by the funeral home, The Arizona Republic reported .
The Arizona Patriot Guard Riders provided the honors for Cook on Saturday after Sen. Jeff Flake sent out a short-notice call on Twitter, asking for volunteers to assist in the effort.
Cook was stationed in New Jersey as a flight engineer in the Army Air Corps during the war. He taught airmen how to bomb targets, and he worked on the components for bombing, said Rick Travis, the nephew of Cook.
Upon the request from families, the Department of Defense is required by law to provide every eligible veteran with military funeral honors such as the folding and presenting a burial flag and the playing of “Taps.”
For veterans to receive these honors, the law requires a document proving honorable discharge, which Cook’s family was not able to locate.
Cook moved with his wife and daughter from Ohio to Mesa, Arizona, in 1965. Travis said the paperwork was nowhere to be found.
The family submitted a request to the National Archives for a copy of the document, but they did not receive a reply. The family also attempted to acquire the proof through the Veterans Affairs Department, but Travis said Phoenix representatives were not helpful.
The family received the same unsuccessful results after turning to a local air force base and other organizations.
“We’ve given them everything we could possibly give them,” Travis said. “None of that matters. They wanted to see this piece of paper.”
A spokesman for Luke Air Force Base said the base likely could not coordinate services on such short notice even if the paperwork was found.
Representatives for the Arizona National Guard and the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs did not immediately return calls and emails from the newspaper.
“Once someone dies, you’re really limited on time,” Travis said.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com