All hands bury the dead," commanded the officer of the deck.
The ocean swells cradled the ship and the white tops broke under a clear sky, Jan. 24, as the casket of Master Chief Kyle G. Sutton laid peacefully in the well deck of USS Makin Island (LHD 8). Sailors gathered in ranks in honor of the master chief who only six months ago was out on the deckplates leading them on the naval warship.
Makin Island was Sutton's final duty station as a United States Navy Sailor, and it would be the vessel that carried him to his final resting place in the Pacific Ocean.
"Makin Island, attention!" commanded Executive Officer Capt. Mark Melson.
Sailors and Marines all came to attention as Commanding Officer Capt. Jon P. Rodgers gave his remarks.
"Shipmates," began the captain, "it's a very fitting morning." The sound of the ocean roared outside of the well deck and the ship steadily swayed from its swells.
"I had hoped for a very calm-watered ceremony, but that would not be Kyle," said Rodgers. "He wanted to go with a splash. Well, he's going to get that wish because we're in eight to ten foot seas and we're heading west."
As the captain continued to speak about Sutton, Sailors stood stoically, facing the sea. Though their expressions remained the same with constant vigil in the early morning hour, tears began to stream down many of their faces.
"This morning there are no words for comfort," said. Rodgers. He paused as he looked at the ranks of Sailors and Marines. "There are only words of praise for a shipmate that we will dearly miss - eternal praise and thanks that our paths have crossed with such a man, such a Sailor who made us all better."
The commanding officer again paused, looking down for a moment, and when his eyes came to face his crew again he said, "He trained a generation of boatswain's mates, a wardroom and a captain."
"Chaplain," said Rodgers, "carry out the honor."
Lt. Cmdr. Aaron C. Carlton, command chaplain, gave the benediction and concluded with a prayer and the committal.