It’s hard to distinguish between
funerals. Everyone’s going to touch
you in different ways. But, the
recent KIAs are always the hardest
— the 19-year-olds who have been
in a few years — and the parents,
wives, newborn children.
It’s emotionally taxing but, at
the same time, you see the change,
the emotional relief that we give
them through our brief services,
and the Marines here in the bar-
racks give with their service. We
do as much as we can. We want to
do more, but …
Weather is not a thing for us.
Call us the Post Office. We’re
always open, always available for
the families. That’s a good thing. It’s
something you have to get used to,
because we don’t get holidays off, as
other Marines at the barracks do.
We’ll work through those. We’ll
work through snow, rain, sleet,
cold, hot, doesn’t matter.
I tell my guys, the families came
all the way out here, from the
Virginia area, my hometown in
Miami, or San Diego, so we’re going
to go out there and give them a ceremony to the best of our ability.
As the platoon sergeant, I take
care of my guys administratively.
And on the funerals, I’m what we
call the senior man; I’ll be making
all the calls, the only Marine talking. And, when needed or appropriate, also handing the flag off to
It’s a learning experience. And
every funeral is an honor to be out
there, especially the ones where
you can take charge and take that
final flag pass.
I will finish my career at the barracks and will be ESing [end of
service] in July. I’ll be going back
to Miami, where winters aren’t as
strong. Going to pursue my degree
and jump into law enforcement.
Although this is not something I
planned to do, I would fully recommend it to other Marines, just
because our core values are honor,
courage and commitment, and this
is one of the most honorable things
you can do.
What I tell the Marines that I’m
in charge of, I say this is a life-changing experience. To help these
families in the way that we do is
something that nobody else in the
Marine Corps is going to have. It’s
something that’s very unique, and
it’s an experience that will last.
The Marines are the only service
that uses only six body bearers, instead of eight. And we are the only
service that does the final raise,
where we lift the casket above our
heads, before placing it on the
That’s where we get our saying:
‘We’ll be the last ones to let