Class Poop
West Point Class of 1965 Funeral SOP

I.            Introduction: The West Point Class of 1965 takes great pride in our cohesiveness and camaraderie. When a member of the Class of 1965 passes away, the surviving family members can expect to be offered assistance by the Class in the following ways:

A.           Notification of the West Point Association of Graduates and the Class of 1965; (Information Systems Officer {ISO} and Secretary/Scribe)

B.           Establishment of a “Eulogy Page” on the class website; (ISO)

C.           Appointment of a classmate as a single Point of Contact (POC) to assist as necessary; (Secretary/Scribe in consultation with ISO)

D.          Provision of flowers and/or charity donations, Class flag and bugler for “celebration of life” services; (Class Point of Contact {POC} in consultation with family, Treasurer, Flag Custodian).

E.             Assistance with writing the Classmate “Memorial Article;” (Memorial Article Coordinator)

II.    Resources

A.           Cullum File: As most graduates are aware, there is a “Cullum File” maintained for each of us. Marilee Meyer is the person at AOG who manages those files. She is a great source of information about the files, the contents, etc. She can be reached at: (845) 446-1646, Marilee.meyer@wpaog.org.

B.           Cullum File Access: The file can only be accessed by the graduate or, if deceased, by the next of kin. However, Marilee can access the file to determine what documents are therein and what major information, such as a DD214, is lacking.

C.           DD 214: The most important document to maintain for quick access is the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, which documents the deceased’s military service including discharge status. It is a critical document for obtaining benefits due the deceased and his family, including military honors. An unredacted, signed copy of the DD214 is required to file for veteran’s benefits and for establishing eligibility for interment in the West Point Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, or any VA cemetery.

D.          How To Obtain a DD 214: The best way to get a missing DD 214 and other official records is to follow the instructions provided at this website: https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/

1.           West Point: Eligibility and other information for interment/ inurnment at West Point is provided at this website location: https://www.westpointaog.org/westpointcemeteryeligibility/

2.           Arlington National Cemetery and VA National Cemeteries:

a.           Arlington National Cemetery: Eligibility for interment/inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery is different from VA National Cemeteries. The best source of information on eligibility and benefits is: https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

b.           VA National Cemeteries: The best information is available at: https://www.cem.va.gov

3.           Private Cemeteries: Interment/inurnment at private cemeteries is best handled with the advice of the local funeral director. Part of a funeral director’s education and training is how to handle a veteran’s eligibility and honors.

III.  Roles and Contacts In The Event of A Classmate Death:

A.           Class of 1965 Leadership Team

1.           President: Pat Kenny: pdjkenny41@gmail.com

2.           Vice President: Bob Radcliffe bobradcliffe@mindspring.com

3.           Vice President: Fred Smith: fjs8108@aol.com

4.           Treasurer: Mitch Bonnett: mebonnett@icloud.com

5.           Secretary/Scribe: Step Tyner: Tynerstep@gmail.com

6.           Information Systems Officer: Chuck Nichols:(703) 346-8611 cnichols6@verizon.net

7.           Historian: Bob Frank: bobfrank@atlanticbb.net

B.           Flag Coordinator: Terry Ryan: (703) 973-8731, tcryan@i2xllc.com

C.           Memorial Articles Coordinator: Chuck McCloskey (919) 610-9325 ccmccloskey@yahoo.com

D.          Cemeteries

1.           Arlington National Cemetery: www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

2.           VA Managed National Cemeteries: www.va.gov/burialsmemorials

3.           West Point Cemetery Office: Jenifer McSwain: (845) 9382504 / jenifer.mcswain@westpoint.edu

E.           West Point Association of Graduates

1.           Notification: westpointaog.org/graddeathnotificationISO responsibility

2.           Memorial Support Coordinator: Barbara St.John: (845) 446-1620 / memorial.support@wpaog,org

3.           Cullum File Manager: Marilee Meyer: (845) 446-1647 / Marilee.meyer@wpaog.org

4.           Thayer Hotel: (800) 247-5047 Ask for catering office.

F.           Bugles Across America:  www.buglesacrossamerica.org

G.          Veterans’ organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans often have survivor assistance specialists available for consultation.

H.          Both the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and state-level veteran bureaus are additional sources of information.

I.            For active duty service members and those drawing retired pay, the nearest military installation will have survivors’ assistance officers available to help handle claims and notifications.

J.            If the decedent has a life insurance policy with Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association, that entity will provide assistance as well, including notifying other insurance companies.  Those services are also available for a nominal fee to those service members not holding such a policy. AAFMAA, 1-800-522-5221

IV.   Class Leadership Actions upon notification of a Classmate’s death

A.           Actions Taken By: Class of 1965 Scribe and ISO:

1.           ISO notifies AOG and W-P.org: Marilee Meyer, (845) 446-1646, (Marilee.meyer@wpaog.org, dnsreport@wpaog.org) and West-Point.org (feedback@west-point.org)

2.           ISO requests that Cullum File information that may be pertinent be furnished to the next of kin by Marilee Meyer (Marilee.meyer@wpaog.org).

3.           Scribe locates and designates a Classmate to be the POC (time sensitive), provides same with Funeral SOP and POC Checklist, cover email stresses tailoring support to family’s needs and desires.

4.           Scribe notifies the Flag Coordinator as soon as possible (time sensitive), provides him with POC’s contact data

5.           ISO establishes a Eulogy Page on the Class Website

6.           Scribe provides the Class with warning order information relative to any services that might be held, and then continues to act as POC’s conduit to the Class as a whole.

V.     General Instructions (Please see Appendix A for the POC Checklist)

A.           The POC will inform the Class Treasurer as to the family’s desires for flowers and/or a charitable donation and provide the Class Scribe further funeral arrangement information such as funeral service location and time, local hotel information and, if available, even a copy of the local newspaper obituary.  If there is no family member or POC immediately available, the Class Scribe has been successful in the past in getting the local funeral home and scheduled service information on-line, which will be passed on to the Class as a whole and Class Treasurer. For charitable contributions, the Class Treasurer will immediately contact Jo-Ann Shipley, WPAOG, to arrange for a check to the proper organization. For flowers, the POC will normally purchase them locally and submit an invoice to the Class Treasurer for reimbursement.< If this is not possible, the POC will notify the Treasurer, who will arrange for flowers himself or via AOG.

VI.   Detailed Funeral Support Element Information

A.           Funeral Services at West Point –

1.           As soon as the family has chosen West Point as the burial place for our Classmate, the POC should contact Jenifer McSwain (845-938-2504, jenifer.mcswain@westpoint.edu ) to confirm eligibility and get a burial date ASAP. (Burial dates can vary from one to several weeks after notification).

2.           The POC should also contact the WPAOG Memorial Support Coordinator (Barbara St.John, 845-446-1620 / memorial.support@wpaog.org) who will help the POC and family with the following coordination:

a.           Funeral Homes

b.           Florists

c.           Transportation (Shuttle services from local airports and rental car companies)

d.           Restaurants Reception Venues

e.           Photography, videography, and music support

f.            Assistance with Itineraries

g.           West Point Tours

h.           Security Access onto post

i.             Gravesite selection

j.            Military honors from West Point soldiers such as pall bearers, firing squad and bugler

k.           Class flag (a duplicate is kept at WPAOG for West Point funerals)

l.             Chaplain assignment - name and phone number. Family and/or POC can work with the chaplain on what type of funeral services should be conducted.

NOTE: Memorial services at the historic Old Cadet Chapel in the cemetery and subsequent burial/inurnment require much less transportation and coordination with the West Point officials, funeral party and guests than those conducted  at the other religious locations on Post. Also suggest a 1330 hours memorial service so that nearby Classmates can travel to and from West Point that day.

3.           As soon as there is a scheduled burial date, POC or family should contact Hogan’s Funeral Home in Highland Falls (845-4462868). Provide them with the name and phone number of the funeral home delivering our Classmate’s remains. Hogan’s can advise the family on provision of headstones.

4.           Receptions after the funeral services have been held at the Hotel Thayer through the catering department.  Suggest getting the Hudson Gallery room, which is behind the main hotel lobby and has a great Hudson River view. The West Point AOG Development Events office may have some sway in getting things done with the Hotel Thayer officials).  The West Point Club, formerly known as the West Point Officers’ Club, is another option for a reception.  A further option is the grand hall in Herbert Hall (WPAOG headquarters).

C.           Funeral services other than at West Point - If a classmate has elected burial at a location other than West Point, the POC should familiarize himself with the information provided earlier in the SOP so as better to guide the survivors.  Depending on the resting place selected, significant time periods between death and interment/inurnment can be experienced, based upon many factors.  For Arlington, if full honors are requested, including a chapel service, a wait of up to six months is not uncommon.  In the case of these delays, families will often conduct a local Memorial or “Celebration of Life” service first.

D.          The POC can be extremely helpful to the survivors by offering help with one or more of the following.

1.           Playing of Taps - If no other provision to play taps at the memorial service is available, contact Bugles Across America (https://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/).  Their website is comprehensive on how to obtain their assistance and their response has been excellent

2.           Memorial Article - As appropriate and with sensitivity to NOK and family emotions, discuss the desirability of a Memorial Article to be written for the deceased classmate.  If there is interest, ask the NOK if there is an author or classmate who might take charge of preparing the Memorial Article. [NOTE: This information may be contained in the Cullum File.]  Also provide them the Class Memorial Articles Coordinator contact information (Chuck McCloskey, ccmccloskey@yahoo.com, cell (919) 610-9325) and the Association of Graduates link for Memorial Articles https://www.westpointaog.org/TAPS).

3.           Flowers/Charitable Donation - Depending on the family’s wishes, flowers and/or a charitable donation can be provided.  In most cases, the POC purchases flowers locally and submits an invoice to the Class Treasurer for reimbursement.  He also provides the Treasurer with contact information in cases where a charitable contribution is requested.

4.           Class Flag: Our goal is never to have a classmate’s service occur without the Class of 1965 flag present.  For this purpose, the Class maintains two flags.

a.           WPAOG maintains a Class of 1965 flag for services held at West Point.  For funeral services conducted at West Point, the POC should contact the Memorial Coordinator, Barbara St John.  She will work with you to arrange for the flag to be at the service, if the family so wishes.

b.           For services held other than at West Point, contact Terry Ryan as early as possible to minimize express costs.  703-9738731 (cell) or via email (tcryan@i2xllc.com street address (no PO Box addresses), city, state, zip code, email AND telephone number.  The flag will arrive via a special UPS account set up for this specific purpose.  The POC will receive tracking information via email so the shipment can be monitored.  The shipment will contain ONLY the flag (no pole or stand), instructions and a return shipment authorization (ground transportation method).

c.           In those rare cases where the flag is needed at services that conflict in time, the POC and FC should coordinate arrangements to ship the flag from service to service or work with AOG to implement use of the backup flag maintained there.

5.           Once the POC has arranged for shipment, the POC should locate a flagpole and stand for proper display of the class flag.  Often, funeral homes have the items on hand but early checking is recommended.  Another possible source of help with these items is the local VFW or American Legion posts who often lend them.

6.           Included with the flag will be Vietnam service pins for the surviving spouse and family members if eligible.  The POC should pick an appropriate time to present these pins.  Any unused pins should be returned with the flag.

7.           Once the service is complete, the POC should ship the class flag back to the FC using the shipping materials provided with the flag.  The cost of shipping the class flag is handled by the FC and the Class Treasurer via the UPS account so no reimbursement to the POC should be required.

8.           If the POC has any question concerning the shipment of the class flag and/or pins, please contact Terry Ryan as necessary.  UPS has assured us that a flag placed with them by 1900 hours in DC will arrive the next day by 1030 hours for services on the West Coast.  Please note that this timing is no reason to procrastinate.

E.  POC Final Actions - No later than 96 hours after the funeral services. The Class POC should:

1.           Provide a summary report to the Class Scribe of the funeral services including location, what type of service, military honors, Classmates and family in attendance, and pictures if possible.

2.           Provide the name of the recommended author or POC for the Memorial Article to the Class Memorial Articles Coordinator, assuming that the deceased expressed or the family has a preference.

3.           Submit notable comments from eulogies presented at the Memorial Service(s) to the recommended Memorial Article author/POC.

APPENDIX:  Funeral POC Checklist