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    Ford Conducts Burial at Sea

    GRF Burial at Sea

    Photo By Chief Petty Officer Julie Matyascik | Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Corey Richtberg, from Northport, New...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adonica Munoz 

    USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)           

    Ford Conducts Burial at Sea
    By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adonica Muñoz
    USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

    ATLANTIC OCEAN — The cremated remains of 27 service members from the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force and Air National Guard and three of their dependents were committed to the sea during a burial at sea ceremony aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), July 12, 2022.
    The ceremony was led by Cmdr. Genevieve Clark, Ford’s command chaplain, who spoke about the origin of this naval tradition.
    “It’s a very, very, very old tradition, as early as the first seafarers,” said Clark. “In those days there were, just as there are today, many different beliefs and religions and faith groups, but in some way, they wanted to honor that person because even in death we understand that there’s a connection to life and a connection to a higher power. So that tradition has lived on.”
    Since family members and loved ones are often unable to be present for a burial at sea, each family receives mementos from the ceremony following the event.
    “We send back to the families a navigational chart that indicates the latitude and longitude of where their loved ones were laid to rest and if they send a flag with the remains, we send it back to them. We also send them photos and video so they can see the ceremony,” said Clark. “We send three shell casings to represent the 21-gun salute and we send a letter from the commanding officer.”
    Not only is burial at sea a significant rite for fallen service members and their families, it is also an impactful experience for the ship’s crew.
    “The tradition we’re honoring is to bring them back to their shipmates, to bring them back to where they felt the most connection in life,” said Clark. “I really appreciate how invested our Sailors are, not only in tradition, but in connecting with their shipmates. Even if they didn’t know them, there’s still a connection.”
    According to Clark, Sailors from nearly every department had a role to play in making these connections happen.
    Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Nikolem Noga, from Waimanalo, Hawaii, assigned to Ford’s supply department, participated in the ceremony.
    “Laying so many people to rest at once was a first for me, but it went smoothly,” said Noga. Noga previously served on the Ceremonial Guard where he was able to participate in numerous military funerals, however, this was his first burial at sea. “It was really nice to see everyone coming together and to see friendly faces from all departments.”
    As the participants took their places in formation, the hangar bay fell quiet.
    “Maintain silence about the decks in honor of our departed comrades in arms,” was announced at 8:00 a.m. around the ship on Ford’s intercom. Then came the command, “All hands, bury the dead.”
    One by one, the urn bearers lifted the remains and walked them to the catafalque as their names and backgrounds were read aloud. The urn bearer and committal officer rendered slow and solemn salutes before releasing the urns to their final resting place.
    The firing detail consisted of seven Sailors tasked with firing three volleys toward the horizon for a 21-gun salute. As the shell casings hit the deck, “Taps” played from a lone bugle over the silent participants and attendees.
    “So many of our Sailors find it to be a very valuable and honorable ceremony that they really want to participate in,” said Clark. “These were people that said ‘I want to be here. I want to put on my blues and volunteer my time and march and carry these urns and honor those who came before me.’”
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    Date Taken: 07.12.2022
    Date Posted: 07.20.2022 13:59
    Story ID: 425407
    Location: VIRGINIA, US

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