PACIFIC OCEAN — Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) conducted a burial-at-sea for 24 deceased former military members and one military spouse Sept. 19.
Burials-at-sea became tradition originating from ancient times. The Navy did not have the means for a proper burial so bodies and remains were buried at sea. Now, the ceremony is a sacred honor requested by the military member, their family, or dependents. This tradition demonstrates honor and commitment to service and their country beyond a military member’s life.
“Burials-at -sea are important because it helps us recognize the service of those people that went before us and that the country still values their service,” said Cmdr. Shaun Brown, Peleliu’s command chaplain. “We understand that we owe them and their families the debt of gratitude for their service and their sacrifices.”
Each department aboard Peleliu played a role in conducting the burial-at-sea. Sailors and Marines volunteered to carry the remains of each fallen servicemember and dependent.
Lance Cpl. Devin Elliot, from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, expressed his honor and gratitude to have the opportunity to participate in a burial at sea. “It keeps us connected to who we are, all of our ancestors, and what they fought and died for,” he said. “I never thought I’d be able to participate in a Navy tradition.”
Elliot was one of the many Sailor and Marines who participated for the first time. Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Kyle Beckman volunteered to be Honor Boatswain’s Mate for the ceremony. “I love the tradition of the Boatswain’s Mate, so I volunteered to be Honor Boatswain’s for the first time.”
Burials-at-sea are conducted to render honors to fallen military members who are retired, honorably discharged, active duty and family members. The crew of Peleliu honored members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and an Army dependent with a seven-man gun salute and piping from the Honor Boatswain’s Mate.
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group currently underway on a Western Pacific deployment with amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).