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TECOM Training & Education Command

United States Marine Corps

H&S Bn. begins burial detail duties

By Cpl. Thomas Perry | | May 3, 2002

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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."
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