Fred Mohun: Military funerals
Editor: With the passing of Senator John McCain and President George H.W. Bush, it occurred to me that a refresher of the burial rights of veterans was in order. The following was written by VFW Past Commander and Funeral Coordinator Dave Eaton on Feb. 20, 2012:
Members of American Legion Post 81 and Veterans of Foreign War Post 9401 have combined resources to provide “Military Funeral Honors” at the funeral services of veterans who were discharged from U.S. military service under conditions which are not dishonorable and are requested by the family of the deceased veteran.
Public Law, Title 10, United States Code, Section 1491, provides that all veterans who served their country in military service under conditions not dishonorable are entitled to military funeral honors which are defined as: “The ceremonial paying of respect and the final demonstration of the country’s gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our Nation”.
The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have authorized veterans’ organizations such as the VFW, American Legion, and Marine Corp League to conduct military funeral honors at veteran funeral services.
For the past fifteen years VFW Post 9401 and American Legion Post 81 members have combined personnel and resources, conducted military funeral honors at approximately seventy veteran funeral services per year, and have travelled as far north as Chloride and as far south as Quartzsite. These services are provided free of charge and can be arranged through funeral home directors .
Military funeral honors are conducted according to military regulations and consist of a spoken tribute of the deceased veteran, a non-denominational prayer by the honor guard Chaplain, followed by three volleys of blank rifle fire by the rifle detail. The bugler then sounds “Taps”. At the conclusion of taps, the honor guard is instructed to perform its “final duty” which is the ceremonial folding of the casket Flag, which is then presented and given to the widow or designated next of kin. This service takes about 12 minutes to perform.
The combined honor guard will respond to all requests for these services, but please make your request forty-eight hours prior to the funeral service. We have performed at cemeteries, Churches, private clubs, and private residences. We will render “military funeral honors” at funeral services, memorial services, and “celebrations of life”. While we do not charge for these services, we do accept donations, the proceeds of which are used toward the purchase, and maintenance of our honor guard uniforms, equipment, and other expenses.
Fred Mohun, funeral coordinator
Lake Havasu City