The cremated remains of ten Veterans were committed to the sea, in a ceremony held on June 8. The ceremony was carried out by Sailors and Marines serving aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as they were underway through the Gulf of Aden.
Serving at sea undoubtedly makes an indelible mark in the lives of Sailors, and it is not uncommon for them to express a desire to be buried at sea – perhaps to join comrades lost to the sea. This naval courtesy is extended to active duty service members, retirees, and Veterans who were honorably discharged; civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and dependent family members of active duty Sailors.
As the ceremony was carried out in their absence, the family of the deceased will receive a signed letter from Capt. Grady Banister, commanding officer of USS Iwo Jima; rifle bullet casings from the 21-gun salute; a marked chart showing where their loved one was laid to rest; and a CD of photographs taken during the ceremony.
Capt. Banister shared: “A member of the naval service is a member until the end and beyond… We, as the Navy, honor our Sailors from the beginning of their service until the end. As a Navy family, it’s important to honor the memory of the member, as well as provide closure for the (Veteran’s) family.”
Cmdr. Jeff Etheridge, Protestant chaplain aboard the USS Iwo Jima, on the other hand, shared: “It’s been a great honor for us on board the Iwo Jima to both remember and commit these Sailors that have served honorably, there’s a great chain and we are part of that tradition… We are standing on their shoulders, so it’s really an honor that the families give us that type of trust, to be involved in this.”