USS BOXER, Pacific Ocean – The cremains of 15 deceased military members were committed to the sea on board amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a burial at sea ceremony.
“In a ceremony that acknowledges their service to our nation and calls upon the powers greater than ourselves in which they placed their faith, we commend their remains to the deep,” said Cmdr. Charles Hodges, Boxer’s command chaplain. “This is our way of saying a final ‘Thank You’ for the service the deceased gave in protecting the principles we hold dear.”
The ceremony, which many consider a sacred honor, is requested by the military member, their family or dependents. This tradition is designed to demonstrate honor and commitment to service and their country beyond a military member’s life.
Chief Religious Program Specialist Joseph Stroney said, “Conducting ceremonies, such as a burial at sea, gives these Sailors and Marines a chance to see a tradition not many get to witness or participate in.”
He said when the names are read during the ceremony, “I hope it reignites their passion for being a part of this organization and reminds them that they are a part of something that has happened since the inception of the Navy.”
Each department on board Boxer played a role in conducting the burial at sea. Sailors and Marines volunteered to carry the remains of each fallen service member.
“Being able to contribute to this event was humbling,” Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Cipolla said. “Seeing the new ranks of Sailors paying their respects to the Sailors that have stood in our same place and have made sacrifices to get us to where we are today is truly an honor.”
More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines from Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) are transiting the Pacific Ocean en route to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet area of operations.
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jose Jaen