SAN DIEGO – Sailors from the amphibious dock landing ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) joined members of the American Legion, Boy Scouts of America and Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps to help lay to rest faded and torn American flags during a flag retirement ceremony in San Diego, Nov. 22.
New Orleans' Sailors provided the color guard service during the ceremony, rendering honors while the American flags were placed into the ceremonial flames.
"Today was a special day, I have been to a number of ceremonies but it was great to share this moment with some of my shipmates who have never seen this before," said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class Darron Booth. "This is actually something a lot of Sailors have never seen before, it was definitely a moving experience and you can’t help but to feel a sense of camaraderie."
Title 4, U.S. Code, Chapter 1, Section 8, Paragraph K states: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
During the ceremony the color guard marched ahead as Sherry Hill, the commander of ceremonies at the American Legion Post 434, asked that the unserviceable flags be brought forward for final inspection.
“These flags have become faded and worn over the graves of our departed comrades and the dead Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen of all our nations wars,” said Hill.
After the final inspection a prayer was read and all active duty, retired service members and guests in attendance carried a flag to the burn yard where the flags were honorably retired.
“To a clean and purging flame we commit these flags, worn out in worthy service,” said Hill.
Those in attendance saluted the flags one final time before being placed in the fire.
Following the ceremony the American Legion offered food, drinks and good conversation to all those in attendance. Several war stories were shared between the retired veterans and active duty Sailors about their time in service and the proud history they share.
"On behalf of Post 434 I would like to thank the Sailors from New Orleans who came days in advance to help fold the flags and again today as we laid them to rest," said Hill. "The ceremony was a great success and having active duty service members in uniform present made for a great ceremony as we remembered the history of our great nation.”
New Orleans is currently homeported in San Diego while undergoing a planned incremental availability maintenance period at BAE Systems Ship Repair.