Joint Region Marianas honors Guam veterans

by U.S. Naval Base Guam
U.S. Navy

SANTA RITA, Guam – No matter what clime or place, the playing of “Taps” at military funeral honors stirs emotions of honor, tradition, sadness and loss.  Joint Region Marianas (JRM) Sailors and airmen do more to support veterans and their families of Guam by performing Funeral Honor Details for service members and retirees who are interred on island.  The JRM funeral honors team recently honored the family of Petty Officer 2nd Class William Sablan Cruz, for a funeral held at the Guam Veteran’s Cemetery, April 1.

Typically, there’s an average of three to four services per month, but according to Master at Arms 2nd Class Kevin Madel, leading petty officer of the JRM funeral honors detail, there might be as many as 10 per month.  For him the number of ceremonies and hours devoted to performing doesn’t even compare to the honor provided to the veteran and his or her family.

“There’s definitely a pride factor in providing this honor,” said Madel, who has performed in the detail for two years and two months.  “Presenting the flag to a widow or family member can be very difficult emotionally. Mostly, it’s just rewarding to be able to render these final honors.”

The team supported nine funerals so far in 2016, and 44 in 2015 (21 retiree and 23 non-retired funerals) amounting to 132 hours of community service, not including rehearsals.  The team also supported a retiree funeral amidst austere conditions in Saipan soon after Typhoon Soudelor devastated the island in early August 2015. Funerals for retirees are more involved and require more team members.  The JRM team provides a rifle detail, pallbearers, flag service and “Taps.” According to Madel, it requires about 90 minutes of rehearsal prior to the funeral, but the funeral itself varies in length. Madel explained that the decision to join the team was initially to provide some community service, but then he “got engulfed in it.”  

“The Funeral Honors Detail team is looking for more volunteers to serve the community, but for us it isn’t just about serving the community,” said Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW/AW) Michael Tate, assigned to headquarters, U.S. Naval Base Guam, and detail organizer. “This prestigious opportunity also represents your service branch.  We would like to get all military branches involved in becoming volunteers and members of our team.”

Volunteers for the JRM Funeral Honors Detail can contact NCC Michael J. Tate, michael.tate@fe.navy.mil or call (671) 339-2017 (work) or (671) 483-3773 (cell).

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