Morale: Full Military Honors


December 18,2008: Starting next month, all U.S. soldiers killed in combat (including friendly fire), who are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, will be accorded "full military honors" for their funeral service. This includes an escort platoon from the infantry battalion that supplies troops for burials (the Washington DC garrison always contains one such battalion), a colors team (with flags), a band and a horse-drawn caisson for the casket. Before, only officers, and enlisted troops who held the Medal of Honor or were sergeants major (the highest enlisted rank, E-9) got full military honors. Formerly, the lower ranking enlisted troops got troops as pall bearers, a firing party (to fire volleys), a bugler and a chaplain. These were always available for any burial.

While each service (marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen) provides pall bearers and a firing party, the local U.S. Army infantry battalion provides the escort platoon, and operates the caisson. This force can provide eight "full military honors" funerals a day. Since September 11, 2001, 531 troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were interned, or memorialized, in Arlington. That's about six a month. Most of the hundred or so funerals at Arlington each week are for veterans (not all are eligible.) Most of these do not qualify for full military honors.



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