Skip to comments."Only Marines Touched That Casket"
Posted on 01/25/2007 8:53:45 PM PST by stylin19a
I had the privilege tonight of observing how the USMC brings home their dead. The thought hit me that I have no idea, nor have I ever seen how our Soldiers are treated. I just hope we are at least as respectful. Tonight as we arrived at the Louisville airport, the aircraft captain announced that there was a USMC Sgt on board the aircraft who was on escort duty. The captain asked all onboard to remain seated til the Sgt had left the aircraft. As we pulled into our gate I observed a lot of people moving around in the shadows. I naturally assumed it was the detail preparing to receive the body. What actually happened was quite impressive and quite a testament to the Corps and to the city of Louisville.
The receiving detail stood up consisting of a color guard with US flag, USMC flag and the 8 casket bearers, the OIC, several other NCOs and 3 Marines in utility uniform. I must admit I was taken back by the presence of the 3 Marines in utilities as all other Marines were in Dress Blues. I later was able to figure out the purpose. Additionally, there was an honor guard from the Marine Corps League (I believe they are called that, something the Army cannot replicate) and a piper. Three Delta pilots joined the Marines in the formation. I assumed they were former servicemen or current reservists. Following the off load of all the baggage, the cargo hold remained open. Finally the 3 Marines in utility uniform were sent into the hold to prepare the casket, flag and to position the casket. This was a somewhat special moment as only Marine hands touched that casket and it was planned that way. Have no idea if it was treated the same in Atlanta, but I can tell you only Marine hands touched that casket.
As the casket was lowered halfway down the trolley and stopped, the casket bearers took their positions. Then the Marine Corps League followed behind them in two ranks, one on each side. They all presented arms as the casket came out of the aircraft. Then there was stillness.
As if scripted, from across the airport came a long line of cars with blinking lights and the hearse. Once they were in position, the family was escorted to the casket. It was probably around 30 members led by what I assumed was a very young widow and her young son. For about 10 minutes the family mingled around the casket while the Marines and Leaguers stood at attention. Finally, the family was led back to the hearse.
Then the casket was lowered the remainder of the way and the casket bearers moved through a cordon of the Marine Corps League folks to the hearse, while the bagpiper piped "Amazing Grace."
There were about 70 of us who had just left the aircraft, still in the terminal watching this entire ceremony for about 40 minutes. I will say, not a dry eye in the place and many, many snivels. The Corps really treated their own with respect.
I have no idea who the dead Marine was. I assume he was a Sgt., as his escort was a Sgt. I don't know who his family was, nor if they had any influence. I just know the USMC treated him with total respect and the city of Louisville did also.
As the young Sgt. escorting the body left the aircraft and walked by me, I said, "Semper Fi, Marine." As I have been many times before, I was struck that in 231 years our Army has been unable to produce something similar. Somehow, "Hooah" just doesn't seem right at a time like this.
I trust we do just as well. If not, shame on us. These kids deserve all the respect our Army and country can provide.
It does that to a lot of people. When I was in college, the band was asked to come and play for the VFW at a flag burning ceremony (retiring old worn out flags). We played the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. When they asked us if we could have someone blow taps when they started burning the flags, our band director grabbed two of our trumpet players and sent one of them running all the way across to the other side of the fairgrounds where we were to stand just out of sight. His job was to echo the first trumpet player from a distance when he heard him play. The effect was incredibly moving. I remember people in the stands sobbing out loud.
I have a lot of sad memories of that time.....
Very sorry about that, God bless you for your service.
thanks for the post, very moving
God bless the USMC!
Semper fidelis BUMP!
Great article. Thanks for the ping.
Thanks for posting.
So sorry you had to feel that way. A belated and sincere thanks to you.
Three rifle volleys, not a 21-gun salute.
You were misinformed. Only flag officers receive gun salutes. However, anyone who has served honorably is entitled to and should receive three rifle volleys.
Dad was a Master Sergant and performed mostly clerical work, not only during his time of service, but for over 25 years after he was discharged, working in Civil Service (before he "retired" for the first of 4 times) and he was an incredibly organized person.
When they play taps, I can never keep back the tears. Nor do I want to.
My best friend's son was killed in an accident and they did a Marine funeral at our church. I'll never forget it. The boy's stepfather and two other pastors played Amazing Grace on bagpipes and the young Marines there were amazing in themselves. God bless them all.
Yet another sobering reminder of those that have stepped upon the steeps called honor.
Semper Fi ...
Semper Fi and thanks for the post.
Enjoy your new assignment Marine, Semper Fi.
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