Veterans Laid To Rest With Precision and Dignity
(July 11, 2011)
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (July 7, 2011) -- A lone
bugler stands in the distance prepared to play Taps as seven Marines in
dress blues send a 21-round rifle volley ringing in the air. A crisply
folded American flag is presented to a family member mourning the loss
of a loved one, signifying the gratitude of a nation.|
the final honors rendered to service members who die in the line of duty
and honorably discharged veterans.
Ensuring the fallen receive
the appropriate honors is a task the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San
Diego ceremonial platoon takes seriously. Each ceremony involves
rigorous preparation on their part, as well as the assistance of other
Marines around the depot.
a lot that goes into each funeral; we have to train Marines [who are
augmented to the detail], get our rifles from the armory, get in touch
with the family, deal with funeral coordinators and hold several
rehearsals,” said Cpl. Ryan Johnson, a member of the MCRDSD ceremonial
platoon. “We have to make sure everything is organized and precise.”
Additionally, the Marines must ensure their uniforms are squared
away. Paying close attention to detail is a vital part of representing
the Corps in this capacity.
“We are the last faces of the Marine
Corps a lot of these people are going to see -- sometimes we are the
only face [of the Marine Corps] they'll see,” said Johnson, who is an
infantryman by trade.
Depending on the family's wishes, each
funeral can be different. Some families may choose to have Marines
escort the casket and in some cases the deceased has been cremated.
Whatever their request may be, the ceremonial platoon tries their best
to accommodate them.
three elements are mandated by the Department of Defense and must be
performed to render honors. Taps must be played by a bugler.
Because of the unique nature of each funeral, the number of Marines
needed to execute each ceremony can vary. Since only seven Marines are
permanently assigned to the ceremonial platoon, they must augment
several Marines from other units aboard MCRD.
permanently-assigned members ensure those augmented Marines are able to
execute all drill movements with the precision the Marine Corps is known
“When you go out to ceremonies that involve other branches
of service, you can really tell the difference,” said Sgt. Zachary
Robbins, the ceremonial platoon non-commissioned officer in charge. “You
really notice how the Marine Corps stands out.”
The number of
ceremonies the platoon performs varies from week to week. Not only are
they responsible for carrying out funeral details, but they also
performs several other ceremonial duties both on and off the depot,
including: color guard for the MCRDSD morning colors ceremony,
graduations and supporting community engagement events.
weeks we'll go without any funerals and some days we'll have three
back-to-back,” said Johnson.
Although laying the fallen to rest
can be an emotional experience, it is a rewarding job for those Marines
assigned to the duty.
“Yeah, sometimes you get a little choked
up, but it's an honor and privilege to honor the fallen and their
families,” said Cpl. Emmanuel Chavez, a ceremonial platoon NCO.
The majority of their ceremonies involve older veterans, but
occasionally they are called upon to render honors to Marines who have
died while on active duty.
“It's the younger guys, like the
[privates first class], that really hit me,” said Robbins. “It really
makes you think about life.”
From the day a Marine swears to
uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, they are
promised to be taken care of as part of the Marine Corps family, whether
they choose to serve for four or 40 years.
Marines of MCRDSD ceremonial platoon will continue to ensure they reach
their final resting place with honor and dignity and their families hear
these final words:
“On behalf of the President of the United
States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation,
please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved
one's service to Country and Corps.”
By USMC Cpl. Cristina Noelia Porras|
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego
Poems by David G. Bancroft, USA Patriotism! founder|
Honoring The Fallen
Tears For Your Fallen
Don't Weep For Me
Comment on this article