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Military Funeral Procedures PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 June 2008

At all military funerals, a military honor detail should be present. This detail should consist of at least two active members of the Armed Forces. One of these members should belong to the same branch of the military as the deceased. This detail, though, can consist of many more people. They can be active or retired members of the military and/or members of veterans organizations.  

The military honor detail should fold the flag of the United States. The flag is then presented to the deceased veteran’s next of kin. If a next of kin is not present, the flag is given to a close friend or associate. The flag is usually presented by a military chaplain at the end of the funeral. 

Taps should be played at all military funerals. If possible, this composition should be performed by a bugler in the military. However, if such a bugler is not available, taps may be played by a civilian musician or by an audio recording. Taps is usually performed at the conclusion of a funeral. 

According to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense is required, if requested, to provide the above-mentioned honors for the funerals of veterans. Deceased who are eligible include: 

  1. military members who were on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
  2. former military members who served on active duty and did not receive a dishonorable discharge
  3. former military members who finished at least one term of enlistment and did not receive a dishonorable discharge
  4. former military members who finished a term of service in the Selected Reserve and did not receive a dishonorable discharge
  5. former military members of the Selected Reserve who were discharged because of a disability

Some military funerals have a firing party that does a 3-volley salute over the grave. (In the navy, a cannon is fired.) A firing party is often present for military members who have died on active duty or for a person who holds the Medal of Honor. However, a firing party can also be used at the funeral of any retired member of the military.  

A request for military funeral honors for a veteran’s family should be submitted to the Department of Defense by a funeral home director. 

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