HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Due to the impact of sequestration, the funerals of retirees will fall under an adjusted requirements policy for military funeral honors similar to that which is already used for veterans, an Air Force news release said. The adjustment was effective as of June 4.
The seven member services for retirees when available had included six members to serve as pall-bearers, a six member flag-folding ceremony and a three volley gun salute. Those still may be provided on occasion if the local commander decides it can be supported. Veteran’s funerals currently receive the services of two-member teams.
“We cherish the service and sacrifice of our retirees,” said Brig. Gen. Eden Murrie, director of Air Force Services. “While we had to adjust the Air Force requirement as a result of sequestration, commanders still have the latitude to provide seven-member details if local resources permit.”
Under the new requirements a two member team provides a flag-folding ceremony, the playing of taps and the presentation of the flag to the next of kin, said Master Sgt. Dwayne Blanchette, Hill AFB Honor Guard superintendent.
The only other funeral service which the honor guard provides is for active duty and includes 21 gun salutes, pall bearers, the playing of taps, flag-folding ceremonies and flag presentations to next of kin. Naturally, these involve a larger number of honor guard personnel and skills that wouldn’t be used as often under the new policy.
“Paying respect to the men and women (who served) before us — the only reason we are able to do that is because of what they did,” said Blanchette.
“When you look at history, wars and conflicts, if it had gone different, we wouldn’t be sitting here.”