PITI, Guam (June 19, 2017) – On a somber Saturday afternoon, the Joint Region Marianas (JRM) Funeral Honors team came together to honor the family and the service and life of retired Navy Capt. Sebastian Kallingal with full honors in a 1:30 p.m. ceremony, June 17.
The JRM Funeral Honors team – an all-volunteer team from service members across the island – tries to do more to support veterans and their families of Guam by performing Funeral Honors for veterans who are interred on island. The Kallingal funeral received full honors, which meant 11 detail members from across U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) commands performed the honors – complete with an officer-in-charge, pallbearers, bugler, firing detail, and flag detail.
In crisp dress whites, the pallbearers marched into position at the end of the Hearst, lifted and carried the casket to where the families were gathered under a small canopy to avoid the direct island sun. After laying the casket onto a pedestal and the Catholic priest performed the funeral, the firing detail fired off a 9-gun salute, followed by “Taps.”
The flag detail then moved into position to perform the flag folding. Capt. Hans Sholley, commanding officer of NBG, presented the national ensign to the widow, offering his condolences and presenting the flag, on behalf of a grateful nation, for Capt. Kallingal’s honorable and faithful service to the Navy and his country.
For Master-at-Arms 1st Class Robert Schmidt, acting NBG career counselor, funeral honors are more than just performing a service for veterans’ families. “I perform these honors with a sense of pride, patriotism, and out of utmost respect toward those who have come before me.”
Typically, there’s an average of three to four services per month, but according to Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Edgar Rojasberrio, there might be as many as 10 per month.
The team has supported 15 funerals so far in FY 2017, and 28 in FY 2016 (13 retiree and 15 non-retired funerals) amounting to 794 hours of community service, not including rehearsals.
The JRM team can provide a rifle detail, pallbearers, flag service and “Taps.” The number of team members required to perform honors depends on the veterans’ status – retired or not, and whether there’s a casket or cremated remains. According to Schmidt, it requires about 90 minutes of rehearsal prior to the funeral, but the funeral itself varies in length.
“With attention-to-detail training, we ensure that the services on the day of the funeral are performed at 110 percent,” said Schmidt. “Each volunteer member of the detail showcases true professionalism, unwavering dedication to duty, and respect to the families of our fellow veterans.”
The Funeral Honors Detail team is looking for more volunteers to help serve the community, but for Schmidt it is more than just about serving the community. “This is truly selfless devotion to duty, to come here today and render military funeral honors to the service member. We have a culmination of Sailors from across the island representing different commands, and one airman from Andersen Air Force base on the team. We would like to get all military branches involved in becoming members of our team. This prestigious volunteer opportunity allows us to be direct representatives of Joint Region Marianas, and it is an honor for us to provide this service.”
Volunteers for the JRM Funeral Honors Detail can contact:
OSC Nestor Martinez, email@example.com, (671) 349-4710(w), (671) 482-1678 (c)
MA1 Robert Schmidt, firstname.lastname@example.org, (671) 339-5615 (w), (671) 488-8233 (c)
AM1 Edgar Rojasberrio, email@example.com, (671) 349-9911 (w), (671) 483-6632 (c) [/restrict]