Family laments Navy veteran's funeral honors

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A firing party fires three rifle volleys at a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery on March 27, 2013. A funeral service for veteran Harold Raynorhim on Dec. 17, 2016 was missing the blast of the rifle volley and color guard that his 20 years in the Navy warranted, said his son, Michael Raynor. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)
A firing party fires three rifle volleys at a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery on March 27, 2013. A funeral service for veteran Harold Raynorhim on Dec. 17, 2016 was missing the blast of the rifle volley and color guard that his 20 years in the Navy warranted, said his son, Michael Raynor. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Family laments Navy veteran's funeral honors

by: Sarah Hauck | .
The Daily News | .
published: January 10, 2017

The playing of Taps, and the folding and presentation of the flag of the United States are staples at military funerals.

That was the honor demonstrated for Harold Raynorhim at his funeral Dec. 17.

While the service was described as quiet and respectful, according to his son, Michael Raynor, it was missing the blast of the rifle volley and color guard that his father’s 20 years in the Navy warranted.

“We were a little disappointed,” Michael Raynor said. “It was a very nice, and very respectful, and very honorable funeral service. It was just a little incomplete in terms of what Daddy was entitled to after giving a quarter of his life to service to this country.”

Michael Raynor explained that the family was not upset by the service, they just hope their father is the last Navy veteran to be buried without the full honor they deserve.

According to Defense Manpower Data Center’s website, “By law, military units are required to provide, at a minimum, a two-person uniformed detail to present the core elements of the funeral honors ceremony.”

Those elements include a live playing or recorded version of Taps, and the flag folding and presentation done by the veteran’s service representative.

Additional military funeral elements that can be provided if personnel is available include rifle detail, color guard, pallbearers, caisson and military flyover.

Funeral homes are in charge of organizing those honors for veterans’ services. The funeral home was able to organize the requirements, Raynor said, and tried their best to fulfill the extra military honors.

“The funeral home and director of the funeral home, we believe, did everything he could possibly have done,” Raynor said. “Every attempt he made was genuine.”

The lack of a presence of armed Navy service members in the immediate area made it difficult for the funeral home to find the appropriate color guard and representatives necessary for the rifle detail, Raynor said.

“The powers that could have made it happen were not receptive to making it work,” he said.

According to Director of Public Affairs for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Michael Cole, the hospital does have the personnel necessary to provide an Honor Guard for military funeral honors, but does not have the personnel necessary for the rifle team for the rifle volley.

Navy Casualty Assistance and Military Funeral Honors Mid-Atlantic Region Office said that rifle teams are not provided for veterans within the state of North Carolina. There are few Navy rifle teams available within the United States.

Other branches of service like the Marine Corps and National Guard and Army are unable to provide military funeral honors for qualifying veterans who did not serve in those branches.

That shouldn’t be an excuse, Raynor said.

“The Marine Corps has Camp Lejeune and Camp Geiger; the Army has Fort Bragg. The Air Force has Seymour Johnson. The Coast Guard is even represented in North Carolina,” Raynor said. “There is not a Navy base in North Carolina, to my knowledge. Just because they are not represented in form of a base, I don’t think that should exclude them from the honor and respect (veterans) deserve. There are a lot of Navy veterans that live in North Carolina.”

Harold Raynor died Dec. 15, and was buried Dec. 17, within the time frame most funeral homes request in order to make the contacts necessary.

“It is just another example, not a glaring example, on much smaller scale the disservice that our military veterans are having to deal with,” Michael Raynor said. “It is just sad.”

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