MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Headquarters and Service Bn. will provide burial services for fallen servicemen in the local area for the
next four months. Headquarters Co., which just took over for Weapons and Field Training Bn. Wednesday, will
serve during the months of May and July, and Service Co. will serve during the months of June and August.
The burial detail consists of six Marines who remove the casket from the hearse, carry the casket to the
burial site, and fold the colors during the ceremony. The staff NCOIC then presents the colors to the family
of the deceased.
There is also an eight-man firing team consisting of seven riflemen and one NCOIC, which fires three rounds
each during the ceremony. Three of the expended rounds are polished and placed inside of the folded colors
before it is presented to the family.
To rate a military funeral a service member must be or have been: active duty military personnel, retired
active duty, reserve or national guard members on active duty, reserve or national guard members not on
active duty, reserve or national guard member retiree, and a veteran (someone who served in, but did not
retire from, the military).
Military funerals can be emotional for those privileged to watch them, whether in person or on television,
but one must be present at the burial sight to realize the real power behind the ceremony.
"I've always felt pride when watching a burial ceremony on television," said Headquarters Burial Ceremony
staff NCOIC SSgt. David Scott. "Since practicing this last couple of weeks, I've realized the importance of
accuracy and precision of these ceremonies. Furthermore, it will be a great honor and privilege to
participate in such a ceremony recognizing a fallen comrade."
Although most of the Marines eventually enjoy and appreciate their time on the burial detail, initially many
of them have their reservations about four long months of duty that include numerous practices, last minute
calls and the inability to travel outside the local area because they are always on call.
"On April 22, you see 21 Marines who didn't necessarily want to do the burial detail," said Headquarters Co.
Burial Detail NCOIC Sgt. Barry St. Onge. "On August 31, you see those same Marines transformed into a group
that is left with a feeling of service and accomplishment."
Lance Corporal Luke Moore, who served on the burial detail last year, was one of the few Marines who
volunteered for this year's burial detail.
"It's only four months," said Moore. "If you think about it, four months is not a lot of time to sacrifice
when the Marines who we are honoring have made so many sacrifices for the Corps over the years."
One of the most difficult aspects of serving in the burial ceremony is watching the family of the deceased
suffer through the loss of their loved one, and as those three shots fire out, it is hard for even the most
professional Marine to keep his bearing, said St. Onge.
"I hold myself to the highest of standards out there," he said. "I try to pretend that it is my family out
there. I hope to give the deceased what he deserves for serving his country. I try to block out the sadness.
It is very emotional, but you just have to deal with it."