Monday, May 25, 1998


By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
For 5-year-old Crista Kalaaukahi, fluttering flags were
just too tempting not to try and touch at the National Cemetery
of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Her family was visiting
graves of relatives buried there.

‘Hero’s farewell’

When the system works,
a sailor gets a ceremonial
send-off—burial at sea

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The sun had just broken through the cloud cover as Navy Lt. Romelda Sadiarin gently scattered the ashes of Signalman 2nd Class Richard Anthony Giglio in Pearl Harbor's West Channel near the sunken wreck of the USS Utah.

Giglio's three sons, Richard, Steve and John, watched from the deck of a Navy tour boat as a gust picked up their father's ashes and tossed them across the channel.

As Cmdr. Carl Cummings, chaplain from Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, offered a prayer for the World War II sailor, a three-man rifle detail wearing chrome-plated helmets fired off a 21-gun salute.

Taps, played by a Navy bugler in dress whites, echoed through the West Channel.

"Signalman second class U.S. Navy departing," Petty Officer Dana Seigle announced as he signaled the departure of the Navy veteran with the shrill notes of a boatswain's whistle.

The wind picked up, rocking the tour boat as eldest son Richard tossed two orchid and ginger leis into the harbor.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Richard Giglio Sr., a World War II Navy sailor, was
given a burial at sea with full military honors at Pearl Harbor.
Giglio's sons John, Steve and Richard Jr. watch
Father Cummings perform the service as Seaman Angela
Thompson, left, and Fireman Joanne Santiago stand
guard over the flower-draped urn.

Nearby at a Ford Island, the newest symbol of Navy might -- the USS Georgia, a 560-foot ballistic missile submarine armed with 24 tubes of Trident missiles lay at anchor.

"I'm a little emotional over all of this," remarked John, Giglio's youngest son, as he clutched the folded American flag that was presented to the family.

"My father never really talked about his (Pearl Harbor) experience," Richard said.

"In the end, when he did talk about it, he said the worst part was picking up the bodies. That was the worst part. Apparently, there were so many floating in the harbor."


Richard Anthony Giglio was only 18 when he enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7, 1941, he was stationed aboard the destroyer USS Case, which was anchored in a nest with four other destroyers and the destroyer tender Whitney in Pearl Harbor's East Loch, close to where the Ford Island Bridge now spans the channel.

"Most of the crew was off the ship and on liberty," son Richard said. "For that reason, my father said his ship couldn't get a shot off. But his destroyer was never hit. The Japanese never bothered them."

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Thompson readies the flag to present to Giglio's family
as the Naval Station Ceremonial Guard fires off a 21-gun salute.

During the Pacific War, Giglio saw action at Guadalcanal, New Caledonia and Munda and was aboard the USS Chicago when the Japanese signed the articles of surrender in Tokyo Bay in 1945.

Giglio left the Navy in 1946 but enlisted in the Air Force, serving for six years.

Son Richard said it was never his father's intention to seek a military burial or to have his ashes scattered at Pearl Harbor, although his father was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and had been to the islands several times for reunions.

It was only after his Giglio died in January that the family decided to see what could be done. "It is more appropriate than anything we could think of," Richard said as the Navy tour boat passed by the alabaster USS Arizona Memorial.


The Navy last year conducted 36 burials at sea in Hawaii and 28 since January.

The Navy estimates that it averages about three burials a month. Most of the requests involved cremated remains. Intact remains are rare, the Navy says.

A Navy ceremony usually requires seven people -- the rifle detail, bugler and a chaplain or the ship's commanding officer -- to conduct the service, said Chief Petty Officer Eugene Paul, director of Navy liaison at Tripler Army Medical Center.

"All service members, regardless of service, and their dependents, can be buried at sea," Paul said.

However, only those service members who have been certified by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association as being in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack are granted the privilege of having their ashes scattered over the waters where the Pacific War began. Since the program began in 1995, 18 survivors have requested this service.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Richard Giglio Jr. reflects after receiving the flag.

And for the survivors of the Japanese attack on the USS Arizona, there is the added special privilege of having their remains entombed on the sunken battleship. To date, 13 survivors have been laid to rest in the ship's gun turret 4, near the stern of the Arizona. The National Park Service estimates that fewer than 100 of the Arizona's original crew is still alive today.

For veterans requesting burial at sea, the ceremony is usually done by a Pearl Harbor warship or submarine on routine patrol. If the request is to have the ashes scattered by air, the service is usually conducted on the tarmac before the aircraft takes off.

If a veteran requests a certain spot in the ocean, those requests are honored by the next naval vessel going in that direction.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Richard Giglio Jr. tosses a lei into the ocean shortly
after his father's ashes were scattered.

Paul, who has been handling the Navy's burial at sea program in Hawaii for the past 14 years, said one of the more unique requests is from a Navy officer who served as an enlisted man on the destroyer USS Mayrang, which sank near Kwalajein in the Marshall Islands during World War II.

"We don't have many ships that go there now. We still have his ashes in a very elaborate urn with his photograph and signature etched on the outside. We've had them now for two years, and we continually keep his family apprised of the situation," Paul said. "And the family has been very understanding."

Wartime duty: Pearl Harbor
burial at sea requirement

All members of the uniformed services -- including retired personnel and those honorably discharged -- are eligible for burial at sea, along with their dependents.

The services are performed on Pearl Harbor naval vessels that are on official maneuvers. Therefore, it is not possible for the family to be present.

Requests should be submitted to the Navy Liaison Unit, Tripler Army Medical Center, TAMC, HI 96859-5000 with the following documents:

Bullet A signed and witnessed request from the next of kin or person designated to direct the disposition of the remains. Include as much information as possible, such as the desired location of disposition (i.e. off Oahu, between Hawaii and Japan, etc.), type of vessel and religious preference.

Bullet A certificate of cremation.

Bullet A copy of the death certificate.

Bullet Proof of service, such as discharge papers (DD214) or retirement orders.

Upon completion of the sea ceremony, the commanding officer of the ship will send a letter to the next of kin.

Included in the packet will be a chart of the area depicting the location of the burial ceremony, photographs or a videotape and three shell casings of the 21-gun salute performed during the ceremony.

Veterans who served in any branch of the service and were on active duty or within three miles of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, are eligible to have their cremated remains scattered over the waters of Pearl Harbor.

Required documents are the same as for the burial at sea program, but also must include a verification from the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Their address is Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, National Headquarters, P.O. Box 99, Menomonee Falls, WI 53052-0099.

Requests for Pearl Harbor burial, along with the supporting documents, should be mailed to Commander, Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, 517 Russell Ave., Pearl Harbor, HI 96860.

Neighbor island veterans
miss out most on military
burial honors

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Hawaii's veterans living on the neighbor islands are the ones who are most affected when it comes to military burials.

Walter Ozawa, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs, acknowledges that rendering all veterans full military honors when they die is "a real problem across the nation."

"It's even more acute on the neighbor islands where there is no military base and no funds to send an honor guard there," said Ozawa, an Army Reserve colonel.

"On Oahu, it isn't a major problem, but it's a big one on Maui and the Big Island," he said.

"The people there who only receive a flag from a service representative feel slighted."

Ozawa said the Kauai Veterans Council has resolved the problem on the Garden Island by forming a volunteer honor guard, complete with an M-1 rifle squad, which gives full military honors whenever a veteran's family requests such a burial service.

Manuel Corregedore, veterans counselor for Kauai, said most of the 12 volunteers are Army veterans who together have served in all of the wars since World War II.

Formed more than five years ago, the honor guard -- affectionately dubbed "F Troop" -- has stood guard at 25 burials thus far this year, providing a 21-gun salute, a color guard and a bugler, Corregedore said.

For the other islands, the Hawaii National Guard has tried to help by offering the use of its C-130 cargo aircraft to shuttle active-duty honor guards to the neighbor islands, Ozawa said. But that can't always be done on a timely basis.

"To get an aircraft there on time has been a hit-and-miss basis," he said.

A spokesman for the Pacific Command at Camp Smith said burial honors are provided by service regulations. Much of what a service component offers is dictated by its operational capabilities, said Gene Castagnetti, director of the National Cemetery of the Pacific. He said the military, faced with decreasing resources and manpower, also is being hit with increased demand for military funerals.

The highest burial honors go to active-duty members and Medal of Honor recipients, who could receive six enlisted pallbearers, a firing detail, bugler, chaplain and an officer or noncommissioned officer representative. If a bugler is not available, a civilian bugler or taped recording can be used.

Drilling reservists, and those who have retired or qualified for retirement benefits with 20 years of service, can draw the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts. However, if military support is not available, a service representative will present an American flag at the funeral.

The lowest category of support provides veterans honorably discharged, but lacking the 20 years of qualifying service, with only a representative to present the family with a flag at the funeral.

The individual services respond to requests either with volunteers or special details.

Pearl Harbor has a special eight-man detail that is augmented with sailors from other commands. Hickam Air Force Base's 15th Services Squadron uses its mortuary affairs and honor guard section.

The Air Force reported that it supported 90 funerals here last year, of which 55 were for veterans. So far this year, it has supplied honor details for 23 veterans. All of those in Hickam Air Force Base's honor guard are volunteers.

At Kaneohe, the Marine Corps said thus far this year it has supported 12 funerals. Figures for 1997 were not available.

The Navy said that last year it provided burial details at 121 local funerals, 75 of which were with full military honors. This year it has supplied burial details to 43 funerals, and 33 of them were complete with the bugler, honor guard and a firing detail.

The Army said it provided 670 burial details last year and 220 so far this year.

Ozawa said the Navy last year decided only to fulfill the minimum requirements for noncareer veterans -- those with less than 20 years of service -- by just sending a representative to present the family with a flag. The Navy cited shrinking budget and the drawdown in manpower as the reasons, but that didn't sit well with the Fleet Reserve Association, an association of retired Navy personnel.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Rod Gibbons, Navy spokesman, said "the Navy in Hawaii always tries to do more than what is required, resources permitting."

"There also is a special communal burial ceremony organized by the Fleet Reserve Association and the Navy at the end of each month to honor veterans who were buried earlier that month at Punchbowl or the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery at Kaneohe," he said.

The ceremony includes a 21-gun salute, a color guard and bugler.

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