Chris and I were away this week so there was no sewing. There was something better and much more important. We went to Arlington, VA for TWO services at Arlington National Cemetery I have seen photos of services there but haven't ever participated in one, let alone two. Let me tell you, it's one of the most moving experiences of my life. There are over 400,000 service people interred at ANC and now there are 2 more.
Chris' Dad, Capt. John R. Welsh and our friend's Dad, Col. Richard A. Bowen are now also at rest.
Col. Bowen served in Vietnam and received numerous awards, including the Bronze Star with Valor, RVN Cross of Gallantry, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal (with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters).
John Welsh graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941. After commissioning, he served on destroyers during World War II. He participated in the Philippines and Aleutians campaigns, including early attacks on the Japanese islands.
In May 1945, he was serving as executive officer aboard the USS Luce (DD-522) and survived her sinking during picket duty northeast of Okinawa.
After the war, he completed a master's degree in metallurgy at Carnegie Tech, and worked in naval ordnance.
He commanded the USS Jeffers (DD-621) and USS Gainard (DD-706).
He graduated from the U.S. Naval War College in 1959, then served as executive officer of the USS Rochester (CA-124).
After serving as commander in chief, Pacific Command representative to the Pacific Missile Range at Point Mugu, Calif., in 1964, he was ordered as commanding officer of the USS Cimarron (AO-22) during the Vietnam War. His final tour was as director of plans and programs for Naval Ordnance Systems Command until retiring in December 1966.
John then worked for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Howard County, Md., until 1982, with a three-year stint supervising the European Field Office Heidelberg FRG.
Dad's service started at the Post Chapel on Ft. Myer (where Chris and I were married in February 1988 and Chris' Mom was buried in February 1998.) We seem to be aligned with February.
The casket is taken from the chapel to the burial place on horse drawn caisson and escorted by an honor guard and escort platoon.
It's a long walk from the chapel to section 65 where Chris' Mom was buried in 1998. Couples are buried in the same graves.
The Cemetery is almost full. There are over 400,000 service people on the 600 acre property. There are very strict rules on who gets in now but I believe that WWII veterans are always allowed in. There's also a waiting list of 2 - 3 months before someone can be interred. Both men passed in 2013.
The band and escort platoon stand by through the graveside service.
Nearby the are the service members that will perform the gun salute.
If you are interested you can see the process of the removal of the casket
and the flag folding, gun salute, taps and presentation of the flag to Chris' oldest brother.
Each service has different nuances to the service. This one was Navy and Col. Bowen's (on Wednesday) was Air Force. Both were quite moving.
You would thing that being assigned to these funerals would be boring for the service people but they are actually very difficult (and prestigious) posts to get. One of Col. Bowen's relatives currently serves in the Air Force at Dover AFB. He told us that he was recently on duty to do this at Dover. They oversee the arrival of all bodies from overseas and they perform at every military funeral with 3 miles of Dover. He said that it's very difficult to get selected for this duty and that it wasn't boring at all. In his platoon only 1 person in 400 is selected every 6 months. He said he would gladly do it again.
Both services were lovely and were well deserved by both of these men.
Tomorrow I'll share what we did on our day off.