USA: Amphibious Transport Dock Ship’s First Burial At Sea Commemorates 11 Sailors
The lives of 11 Sailors were commemorated during the ship’s first burial-at-sea ceremony aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) Feb. 5.
Although the Navy has honored veterans with the tradition of a burial-at-sea for many years, this was New York’s first burial-at-sea ceremony. The crew committed 11 Navy Sailors ranging from enlisted to officer as well as retired and recent members of the Navy.
“Any time you do something for the first time, it just seems a little more special,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Amedick, chaplain for New York. “Any burial-at-sea is an important event, and there is always something special about honoring people who have served, and all 11 people who we committed today were Navy veterans.”
Burials-at-sea are considered a great honor, not just for those being committed during the ceremony, but for the many participants honoring the fallen veterans.
“It’s the first for the New York, but just having a burial-at-sea is such an honor in the first place,” said Chief Master-at-Arms William Kline, the rifle squad leader for the burial-at-sea ceremony. “You are representing the family because they can’t be here, so the honor platoon, rifle squad, and all the observers are representing the family and committing this person who has served their time. We’re just carrying on in their footsteps and getting the chance to turn around and actually commit them, and to see where their desire was for their final resting place is emotional.”
Each family member will receive a personal letter from Cmdr. William Herrmann, commanding officer of the New York, three rifle bullet casings, one from each volley of the 21-gun salute, a marked chart indicating where the burial at sea took place and a CD containing the photographs of the ceremony. Some of the families provided U.S. flags to be flown aboard New York, so they will get their flags back with a certificate indicating that their flag was flown on the ship.
“Even though they’re not able to be here, they’ll have some nice keep-sakes from the ceremony,” said Amedick.
When performing a ceremony for the first time, there’s a certain amount of work that goes into making sure all the details fall into place. After a ship’s crew has done it two or three times, there’s corporate knowledge built up and it just happens automatically, Amedick explained.
“For the first time, all those details have to be thought through, planned out and finally put together,” said Amedick. “The combat systems officer had to ask for special ammunition allowance to be able to fire the gun salutes, the navigator had to get the wind direction right and the operations officer had to schedule the ceremony, and getting the message sent off to the people volunteering.”
A burial-at-sea is a time tested tradition. The ceremony is symbolic of tradition, honor, and respect.
“It’s special because it’s the first one for us, and we know the New York is a big symbol having the hull built up from the ashes and molten steel from the World Trade Center, so you throw that all together and you get that wow factor,” said Kline.
The New York is currently underway participating in Bold Alligator 2012 and their Certification Exercise, the final certification for deployment for the 24th MEU and Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group before their scheduled spring deployment.
Naval Today Staff , February 10, 2012; Image: navy