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    Military members honor veteran who died from COVID-19 at NYC field hospital

    Military personnel honor deceased veteran in New York City

    Photo By Maj. Patrick Cordova | New York Army National Guard Sgt. Major Nicholas Pardi, a member of the 104th Military...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Patrick Cordova 

    New York National Guard

    NEW YORK--When Command Sgt. Major Morgan Cady and Sgt. Major Nicholas Pardi, members of the New York Army National Guard on duty at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, learned that a veteran had died of COVID 19 at the field hospital there, they knew what they had to do.

    That veteran deserved military honors, and they resolved to make sure that this former service member received what was due.

    At 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, with five minutes warning, they made that happen.

    When the hearse arrived to collect the remains of the man who once wore his country’s uniform, Pardi and Cady quickly organized an escort, turning out Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and civilians for an honor cordon, and conducted a dignified transfer of remains ceremony at the building.

    Sixty people – Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and civilians—stood at attention and saluted as the impromptu honor guard made their way to the waiting hearse.

    Cady and Pardi’s unit, the Headquarters Company of the 104th Military Police Battalion, is currently serving as staff for the Unified Command Center that the New York National Guard mans to help run what the military has dubbed the Javits New York Medical Station.

    Inside the massive convention center, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, active duty and reserve military medical forces and a host of civilians representing federal, state and city officials have created an alternative care hospital that has cared for 1,044 COVID19 patients.

    The 104th MP Battalion was slated to be in Germany and Poland participating in a massive NATO exercise. But when their deployment to Europe was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kingston, N.Y.-based battalion deployed to New York City instead.

    Before Sunday’s event, the senior leaders at the Javits Center had already thought about what to do if a veteran in the hospital’s care died, explained Sgt. Major Robert Jenks.

    Jenks, a member of the New York Army National Guard’s 53rd Digital Liaison Detachment, is serving as the sergeant major for the Incident Command.

    The senior NCOs worked together to come up with a plan, Jenks said. They coordinated with Sgt. 1st Class James Tate from the Army’s 44th Medical Brigade to come up with the protocols to follow when a veteran died.

    They also coordinated with the chaplains who work in the facility to make sure they would be part of the event.

    It was also important to make sure that there was a casket flag available when the time came, Jenks said. He coordinated with American Legion Post 178 in Dutchess County. The Commander, Eric Breen, and Past County Commander Al Andrews, ensured that 15 flags were delivered within 12 hours, Jenks said.

    The plan was already in place when the veteran died on Saturday, April 18.

    “The senior NCOs in the building had received notice that a veteran had passed the day prior and were actively in the loop as to where he was, and where he was going,” Pardi said.

    But because of the high number of COVID-19 deaths, the funeral home which was due to pick up the body could not say when they would be able to arrive at Javits.

    “We were notified with very little time to prepare,” Pardi recalled.
    When the time came, they moved quickly to put together the dignified transfer ceremony.

    Pardi and Cady hustled out of the command center towards the loading bay. They notified Staff Sgt. Nicholas Mancuso, the chaplain’s assistant, to notify the chaplain on duty.

    They passed the word along as they headed for the loading docks. Kevin Clark, the New York City Office of Emergency Management representative, spread the word to the civilians at the center.

    They pulled out their cell phones and coordinated with hospital staff and the funeral home’s driver as they moved.

    They reached the loading bay with a few service members in tow and determined that the remains transferred had not occurred.

    Army Major Ivan Arreguin, chaplain for the 44th Medical Brigade, joined the group and they worked out the details.

    Meanwhile word had gotten out and more people were assembling.

    “While we began to hastily put together a ceremony on the ground floor, Sergeant Major Cady and I began to notice the crowd growing,” Pardi recalled. “Before we knew what had happened, the detail of 4 or 5 had grown to at least 60.”

    Everyone that had heard of the ceremony made his or her way to the loading area.

    They stood in silence as they watched the service members disburse and put their plans into motion.

    All services, of every stripe and color, were represented. Members of every office, city, state, and federal had dropped what they were doing to come bid farewell to someone they never met.

    New York City Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, whose ambulances where used to move patients, stopped and took part.

    They lined up along the path. They waited silently.

    Chaplain Arreguin started the ceremony by stepping forward. The others in the procession fell in place with the medical staff flanking the gurney holding the deceased.

    Two Army colonels guarded the deceased while Pardi held the flag and followed. Their path took them beside loading bays before turning into an honor cordon service members and civilians at standing at attention, rendering salutes.

    Arreguin stopped some few feet before the hearse. He turned smartly and waited for Pardi to place the American Flag at the foot of the deceased.

    Arreguin conducted a short simple service; a farewell to a veteran that no one in attendance knew.

    “It felt like I was participating in the burial of an unknown soldier known only by God,” Arreguin said.

    “It was solemn, respectful, honoring, and with the key elements normally performed at a military funeral, “he added.

    When he had finished, Pardi lifted the flag slowly, reverently, and clasped it to himself.

    “Being less than ideal, for what it was, I hope we did the service member justice,” Pardi said.

    The medical staff then bundled the deceased into a covering for hygienic travel and placed him in the transport hearse.

    As the door closed, the procession had turned about-face and began the trek back toward the bays, with one less in their midst.



    Date Taken: 04.21.2020
    Date Posted: 04.22.2020 11:32
    Story ID: 368104
    Location: NEW YORK , NY, US 

    Web Views: 1,498
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