By BUCN Liam McShea, NMCB 11
Death is inevitable. Everything comes to a close. This eventuality is encountered multiple days each week by the Honors Detail of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11. The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the nation’s deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This tribute to their service is the final demonstration a grateful nation provides to the veteran’s family.
NMCB 11’s Honors Detail is the Fourth Platoon in Charlie Company, comprised of 19 petty officers, and led by Lt. Nathaniel Bashinski and Chief Builder Keith Hutchason. The detail has conducted approximately 95 funerals since October 2015, and will continue to render ceremonial honors until April of this year, after which they will be relieved of their duty by NMCB 1.
The Honors Detail attends anywhere between 20 and 30 funerals each month. Its area of responsibility is Southern Mississippi, which encompasses 16 counties, roughly an 8,619 square mile area. The detail receives tasking from the Funeral Honors Support Program Commander, Navy Installation Southeast Command, Jacksonville, Florida.
The process begins when an email is received regarding the death of a Navy veteran, or person on active duty who desires to be buried in the area, and the type of funeral honors requested. In most cases, the person chooses a full honors funeral. Full honors consists of a rifle detail of seven personnel, one rifle detail leader, a bugler, two flag folders and a flag presenter.
During a full honors funeral, the funeral detail will arrive an hour early. Prior to the start of the funeral, the rifle detail will post, followed by the bugler, the flag folders and the flag presenter. The funeral ceremony begins with the firing of three volleys from the rifle detail. This is then followed with “Taps” played by the bugler. While “Taps” is being played, the higher ranked personnel salute the Ensign. The two flag folders fold the flag, pass it to the presenter, and then post with the detail. The flag is then handed to the specified family member while stating the following:
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
The person presenting the flag then salutes the family member and posts along with the rest of the detail. Today, the majority of funerals are of junior enlisted veterans who served during the World War II and Vietnam eras, but there are exceptions.
According to an Honors Detail team leader, it is just another day’s work.
“It’s still a job, and you still have to maintain yourself,” said Builder 2nd Class Kyle Stevenson, NMCB 11. “It gets easier the more you do it. You can’t spend too much time thinking about it.”
The Honors Detail places the military funeral as its highest priority and maintains a professional military decorum when conducting each ceremony. While funerals are reflective in nature, the Funeral Detail cannot allow emotions to get the best of them. Over time, the funerals become easier to perform. The detail constantly has to hone its skills to avoid making any mistakes.
“We have the guys keep a somber demeanor, constantly maintaining military bearing,” said Bashinski.
The service that the detail provides to the Navy is an honorable one. While maintaining military bearing and providing exceptional performance in one of the oldest Navy ceremony traditions, the Honors Detail exemplifies the Navy’s core values. Often placed under emotionally challenging circumstances, the detail consistently proves the excellence of Charlie Company, NMCB 11 and the entire Navy – taking care of their shipmates in all aspects of