SeaPower FebMarch2016.QXD_Seapower FebMarch 2015 2/22/16 4:19 PM Page 42
PROFILES IN SERVICE
Cpl. Michael P. Ryder
MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON
I joined the Marine Corps I
think out of a sense to serve.
I enlisted at 25, after trying college
and deciding I just wasn’t ready for
it at that time.
I went to boot camp at Parris
Island and then to the School of
Infantry and now serve at the Marine
Corps Barracks in Washington, D.C.,
as a body bearer for the funerals of
Marines or their spouses. I am finishing four years in the Corps.
The majority of bearers are
taken straight out of infantry
school. They pick you on the requirements that they see, a [height]
minimum of 6 feet and a basic
strength test, that is 10 reps of 225
[pounds] bench press, 10 reps of
135 military press, 10 reps of 115
curl, 10 reps of 315 squat. The
majority of us were at one time athletes. I was a football player.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Cpl. Michael P. Ryder front right, and Marines from Marine Barracks Washington
participate in the funeral of Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman
in Knoxville, Tenn., Sept. 27.
Right now, we have 13 body
bearers and five students. We support Arlington National Cemetery
and we also support the National
Capital Region, and, when called
upon, which is a little more rare,
we do travel.
To meet the needs of the Marine
Corps, to be sent here, it is a blessing. It’s outside what you choose to
do, since most of us are infantry.
down and mostly recharge and do
whatever our command needs of
us, medical and all that stuff.
When you begin to do the
funerals, it’s a different animal altogether. You become a perfectionist.
Words like ‘service’ and ‘honor’
really take on a new meaning,
because you get to see the families
on their worst day. You get to put
in a helping hand to help them get
over their losses.
Arlington becomes a national
memorial on weekends. So we
work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday
Just recently, we traveled to Knox -
ville, Tenn., to do 1st Lt. Alexander
Bonnyman’s funeral. He’s a Medal of
Honor recipient who they just recently repatriated his remains. [Bonny -
man received a posthumous Medal of
Honor for heroism on Tarawa in
World War II. His burial site was lost,
but his remains were among 37 discovered and identified in 2015.]
We average three to five funerals
a day, 15 to 25 weekly. We have
two teams, black team and the gold
team. We get an administrative
week off in which we kind of stand
It is becoming exceedingly rare
for the World War II remains to
come in, but it’s a blessing to be
part of those funerals. It’s always
very special. The Korean War and
Vietnam War are the Marines we’re
primarily seeing these days. We’re
lucky to not be doing as many
Section 60 funerals, the young
Marines killed in action [KIA], as
we have done.
42 SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016