A Final Salute
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn
November 12, 2020
A detail of three Sailors in winter dress blues stand at attention facing a long, winding road that divides large grass areas perfectly lined with identically shaped white headstones at Washington Crossing National Cemetery.
In the distance stands a bugler with his back to the colorful, early November trees. A hearse slowly approaches the detail when Cmdr. Ryan McGeehan calls the command for a hand salute – the vehicle comes to a halt and the salutes are lowered.
The duties of Naval Support Activity Philadelphia’s Funeral Honors division frequently bring them to this cemetery where they provide honors for veterans such as Lt. Frederick L. Porter, a decorated U.S. Navy pilot who flew two tours in the Vietnam War.
November 6, 2020 - Sailors assigned to Naval Support Activity Philadelphia's funeral honors division provide military honors for a veteran at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. Navy military funerals are conducted to recognize the proud American tradition of honorable service, which Navy men and women have given to their country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn)
“Growing up my father often talked about the friends and family he gained from his time as a Navy officer,” said Carita Geib, Porter’s daughter. “He knew when he was away that his family back home was always taken care of. I think it’s amazing that after dad’s passing, what still remains from the Navy is that sense of family.”
Navy military funerals are conducted to recognize the proud American tradition of honorable service, which Navy men and women have given to their country. Our nation regards the memorializing of its military deceased as an honorable and sacred obligation.
“The veterans we provide these final honors for are often from a different generation, they fought in different wars and they came from all different walks of life,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Kathiana Possible. “Even though we may not have known them personally – there’s still a deep connection felt at each and every service for someone who once wore the cloth of our nation’s Navy.”
NSA Philadelphia’s Funeral Honors division attended services for nearly 800 veterans in 2020, making them the fifth busiest in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Navy – a region that stretches over 19 states.
“Our mission is the flawless execution of rendering proper military honors to the deceased and their families,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Jacob Ridley. “It’s not uncommon for us to attend multiple funerals in a single day. While the procedures for a service has become second nature to us, our shipmates only get one send-off and it’s our duty to make that moment special for their loved ones in attendance.”
Following the playing of “Taps,” the detail begins to fold an ensign amid the lingering smell of gunpowder from rifle fire. The folded flag is then passed from Sailor to Sailor before being presented to Porter’s daughter. The Sailors slowly raise their right hands as the military funeral honors conclude the same way they started ... with a final salute.
Honoring The Fallen | Don't Weep For Me | Remember The Fallen | Tears For Your Fallen | Our Wounded
U.S. Navy | U.S. Navy Gifts | U.S. Department of Defense
Our Valiant Troops | Veterans | Citizens Like Us