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Fort McHenry Holds Burial at Sea, Honors 36 Veterans

Fort McHenry Holds Burial at Sea, Honors 36 Veterans

Story by SN Christopher Roys on 02/20/2019

Fort McHenry Holds Burial at Sea, Honors 36 Veterans
U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys
GULF OF OMAN The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) laid to rest 34 veterans and two military spouses during a burial-at-sea ceremony, Feb. 19.
The deceased included 28 Sailors, two Airmen, two Soldiers, one Marine, one Coast Guardsman and two military spouses.
Cmdr. Steve Schmidt, commanding officer of Fort McHenry, oversaw the ceremony.
“I am privileged to commit these remains to the sea and pay tribute to their legacy,” said Schmidt. “The men and women we honored today served our great nation with dignity. It is our duty to ensure we pay our highest respects to these brave souls. We will carry on our shipmates’ legacies by continuing the tradition of excellence they upheld before us.”
Historically, burials-at-sea were conducted because ships lacked the proper means to bury fallen Sailors. Today, the tradition has become one of the highest honors a former service member can receive.
The service included a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps and remarks delivered by Lt. Christopher Linzey, command chaplain.
“Burying those who have gone before us is our final act of rendering honors for their service,” said Linzey. “I am extremely grateful to be able to participate in laying our brothers and sisters to rest and to commit their remains to the deep. I know the entire crew is honored to perform this duty for these veterans and for the families who miss them.”
For Yeoman 1st Class Roberto Valdez, playing a role in the burial-at-sea was a rewarding experience.
“Being able to continue on a naval tradition such as this was an emotional experience,” said Valdez. “These fallen Sailors stood the watch before my time, and this was a small way for me to pay my respects, and let them know that I have the watch.”
Fort McHenry is part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the central region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

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