Sequence of Events for an Army Honors Funeral At Arlington National Cemetery
- The caisson or hearse arrives at grave site, everyone presents arms.
- Casket team secures the casket, NCOIC, OIC and chaplain salute.
- Chaplain leads the way to grave site, followed by casket team.
- Casket team sets down the casket and secures the flag.
- The NCOIC ensures the flag is stretched out and level, and centered over the casket.
- NCOIC backs away and the chaplain, military or civilian, will perform the service.
- Chaplain concludes his service and backs away, NCOIC steps up to the casket.
- The NCOIC presents arms to initiate the rifle volley.
- Rifle volley complete, bugler plays "Taps."
- Casket-team leader starts to fold the flag.
- Flag fold complete, and the flag is passed to the NCOIC, OIC.
- Casket team leaves grave site.
- NCOIC, OIC presents the flag to the next of kin.
- Arlington Lady presents card of condolences to the next of kin.
- The only person remaining at grave site is one soldier, the vigil. His mission is to watch over the body until
it is interred.
Interesting military funeral facts:
- Full Honors funerals for commissioned officers include the following:
- An escort platoon (size varies according to the rank of the deceased)
- A military band
- A casket team
- A firing party
- A bugler
- Flags are provided for burial services of service members and veterans. The flag for one who
dies on active duty is provided by one's branch of service. Flags for other veterans are provided
by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- The practice of firing three rifle volleys over the grave originated in the old custom of halting
the fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield. Once each army had cleared its dead, it would
fire three volleys to indicate that the dead had been cared for and that they were ready to go back
to the fight. The fact that the firing party consists of seven riflemen, firing three volleys does
not constitute a 21-gun salute.
- "During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery A of the 2nd Artillery
was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position concealed in the woods. It was
unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave, on account of the proximity of the enemy,
and it occurred to Capt. Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most appropriate ceremony
that could be substituted. The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the
Potomac and finally confirmed by orders."
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