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From: McNair, Carl
Date: Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 7:10 PM
Subject: Arlington National Cemetery - Official Guide to Funeral Services at Arlington for your 98 year old WWII Veteran Friend
To: "Charlie Johnson"
Cc: "Jack Campbell", "Tom Sims"
Ref your question tonight as to your 98 year old WW II veteran friend who earned the Silver Star, he is definitely entitled to burial at Arlington, either “in-ground”, whether cremated or “in-casket” or if cremated, he may be inurned in the Columbarium. His wife, if living, may join him in either case, but she must be buried in the same gravesite or inurned in the same niche in the Columbarium. If his wife is already deceased and buried elsewhere, she may be disinterred and buried with him in Arlington, however the family must bear the cost of her disinterment/exhumation and transport to Arlington. If he chooses to be buried in-ground at Arlington, they would be stacked, one vault on the other, and her name, birth/death dates, etc., would be on the reverse side of his VA govt-issued white marble tombstone.
You mentioned the Printed Guide to Arlington which I gave you a few years ago, in conjunction with burial of a classmate at Arlington. Those printed guides are now out of date, since there have been some changes as the volume of funerals increase (average of 27 per day, five days a week and 2-3 on Saturdays- but no honors, band, or honor guard on Saturdays, so Saturdays are mostly for family members, spouses and children, who only have the uniformed casket bearers).
For your reference and your friend’s family info on the current “Official Guide to Funeral Services at Arlington National Cemetery”, it is now an eleven minute digital video on the Arlington Home Page which can be found on their website at:
If you have difficulty opening or playing the embedded video, I will make you a hard copy of my DVD which I use for presentations to groups who desire to know more about Arlington, like my VFW and American Legion Posts, as well as Retirement Communities. It is an excellent presentation and if you pay close attention to the schedulers entering funeral requests on their computers, you can read their numbers in the queue that day – noting that there are often up to 2500 in the queue for burial at any one time, hundreds awaiting a burial number and about 1500 with numbers assigned and awaiting their funeral dates. I often get calls from friends across the country who say – their funeral date is only a week away and the Chaplain hasn’t called them yet, so as the video says, the Chaplain will obtain the personal data for the funeral about a week away – and still has about 30 more funerals to go before your date – they do an amazing job however and every funeral is “up close and personal”. With about 7000 funerals a year, and a max of 140 per week, that means a possible wait of up to 4-5 months, depending on the services you desire, full chapel service, full honors, band, honor guard, marching units, etc. There are four funeral periods each weekday except holidays, rain or shine, snow or sleet, govt closed or open, they keep up that pace , 9 and 11AM, 1 and 3PM, so there are seven funerals processing across the 624 acres of Arlington Cemetery which have to be separated by route of march, with only a few minutes in between, to return the band, troops, etc., by bus for the next funeral AND rest, water and feed the horses, who are very well cared for and carefully monitored in their service as well by organizations by the military vets.
Believe I have told you more than you wanted to know, but wanted to get back to you and pray that your 98 year old WWII warrior will likely live to 110 like Corporal Frank Buckley, our last surviving WWI Vet whom we honored in the Pentagon a few years back. One never knows and we all started in the Boy Scouts at 11, learning the motto, “Be Prepared.” The oldest WWII vet today is 108, so your friend has a ways to go – and am sure Arlington will have a space for him.
I have copied Jack Campbell and Tom Sims on this message since they may desire to post some of the above “answers” to your questions on the Forum, since they are asked by many folks – or perhaps post the Video on the “Arlington Guide”. Many of our friends, especially those living outside the NCR are aware of the delays at Arlington, but not necessarily aware of the sheer volume and limited capacity of Arlington on a given day.
Best to Trudy and am glad you were able to get the bird to go back up your chimney, before Trudy lit the fire under you.
Carl H. McNair, Jr.
Major General, US Army (RET)
Corporate Advisory Board
CPS Professional Services, LLC
A Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Suite 350
Fairfax, VA 22031
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Jon Vanden Bosch Program
Attached above is a scanned copy of the Funeral Service Program for Jon Vanden Bosch‘s interment yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, which might be of interest to many of our classmates who knew Jon or might want to retain a copy in their own files for consideration by their families at some time in the future – or even to post on our website. Over the years, I have attended more than two hundred Arlington funerals during my eight years on the Army Staff and four Pentagon assignments plus my 29 years of retirement in this area. I also had the privilege of serving as Chairman and President of the Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project, a 501(C)(3), which had the mission of funding, publishing and proffering to the Army, 5,000 copies of a Commemorative Book, “Where Valor Rests” for presentation to the families of all military personnel who gave their lives in the War on Terror, since 9/11. In turn, we co-produced with National Geographic a commercial version in 2006, which made the New York Times “Best Seller” List and is now in its fourth edition.
Over my many years of affiliation with Arlington in my retired and executive capacity, I have saved a large collection of programs which I share with friends and families of classmates and fellow soldiers to assist them with planning the funeral services for their loved ones. As I talked with Ofelia to assist her during her preparation for Jon’s service, I sent her a dozen or so to sift through for the family to go through. The order of service, Hymns used, West Point Alumni Glee Club, Reception Locations available, contacts, menus, costs, etc., are the myriad of items that have to be addressed and agreed to by the family members, as well as flowers in the Chapel, roses on the casket/burial site by the family afterward the service are all considerations. Every family I have assisted over the years has different thoughts. In Jon’s case, Ofelia and the family prepared themselves very well to advise their assigned Funeral Director on their desires and believe not only their program, but every aspect of Jon’s services was well thought out and I hope was truly memorable for family and friends, as it was for our classmates and their wives. Jon would certainly have been proud. That, sir, is my report to the you, as the LCA.
I know this is far more than you want or need for the website, Jack and Tom, but I added much more depth and detail to this report since many of the items I embellished such as the Program that evolved from perhaps a dozen programs I mailed to Ofelia months ago and suggested she look at and the family then she and the family pored over them to pick those things they thought added depth, quality, and content. I have seen 20 page programs on multi colored high-quality paper and have seen a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper folded over to make a four page program. The 12 pages Ofelia selected with the USMA Crest, bio, Hymns w/words, Prayers written out as well as Hymns, the credits to the participants, etc., really stand out and I noted many take-aways by classmates – with a view that a copy could be put in their own planning file for their family. Likewise, many attendees often walk away saying – wish they had had their family place a rose on the casket at the gravesite before they left as a final token of love and remembrance. There are so many things that one needs think about that come too late. The firing party blanks, 21 rounds in all, the expended cartridge casings are collected by the firing party at the end of the salute and the family may ask for those to be given to them so that they might be engraved with name, date and place of burial and later given to children or grandchildren. Such things as that can be accommodated, but sometimes the families are unaware of same, so I try to pass it on to the bereaved families for future memories.
Apologize for making this so long – it was not intended to be an LCA report, but more of a global piece on details the families need to think about as they prepare for the final services which will honor their loved ones. Use anything you consider appropriate of leave it on the cutting room floor.
22 SEP 2016