Sailors attached to USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) committed the remains of 44 veterans and dependents to their final resting place in the Pacific Ocean during a burial-at-sea ceremony, Dec. 15.
The interred received full military honors, including a 21-gun salute under the direction of Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, Abraham Lincoln executive officer, and Cmdr. Denis Cox, command chaplain.
Cox said he believes this kind of ceremony highlights the character and heritage that Sailors hold dear.
“It continues a great tradition that we have in the Navy that we will take care of our shipmates even in their death,” said Cox. “We will bury them at sea, and we will do it with honor, solemnity and dignity.”
While Cox has been through ceremonies like this before, it was a new experience for many others in attendance, including Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Jovan Gates.
“It was a very humbling and solemn ceremony,” Gates said. “It reminded me that one day it’s going to be me heading to the bottom of this ocean, too.”
Throughout the last week, as Cox cared for the remains, he said he grew attached to all 44 of the people he was watching over.
“As I’m going through these files, time and time again, getting the spellings correct, getting their ranks or their ratings all correct, I began to form a bond,” he said. “I began to bond with all of these people, with their stories and with their families. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to enter into their lives and do this.”
Cox said there was one story in particular that highlighted the love and respect some Sailors have for the sea and their Navy. Among the 44 people committed to the ocean today, two were a couple who died at different times and wished to be buried at sea at the same time.
“They wanted to do this together,” Cox said. “Now they’re resting together at sea.”
Naval Today Staff , December 19, 2011; Image: navy