By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rob Rupp, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs
USS EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE) gathered to honor the deaths of two former Sailors in a burial at sea ceremony, Aug. 18.
"It was quite the honor to be able to participate in the ceremony and a humbling experience to meld the religious aspects with military honors for the burial," said Lt. Cmdr. Tom Statler, one of IKE's chaplains.
In earlier days, burial at sea was an absolute necessity when a death occurred on board a ship.
Today, it is seldom necessary to bury members at sea, except in time of war. On occasion, naval personnel who die ashore, or naval retirees, request a burial at sea.
These requests are honored whenever possible. Such requests are submitted to the cognizant naval area commander for approval. If authorized, the date of the burial will be determined by the availability of the concerned naval vessel.
"It takes a lot of preparation to conduct a burial at sea," said Statler. "Coordinating this ceremony involved a wide variety of people from the command, such as arranging the honor guard and a firing squad to be there."
The ceremony was composed of religious rites, which consisted of reading scriptures, prayer, the committal and Benediction. Military honors consisted of the firing of three volleys after the Benediction, Taps, and the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the Executive Officer and Command Master Chief, who received it on behalf of the deceased's next of kin.
"The families trust the Navy with the remains of their deceased to carry out their final wishes," said Statler. "Death can be such a great enemy at times, and remembering the life of someone that has passed away can be a great opportunity to bring comfort and joy to the families whom experienced such a significant loss."
Individuals eligible for this program are: active duty members of uniformed services; retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command: and dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.
Eisenhower is currently underway conducting carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean.