Flag Folders: Update

I received an email in response to my post yesterday about the Honor Details at veterans funerals being prevented from reciting a narrative as each of the 13 folds to the flag is accomplished from Kenneth J. Benway, a retired Lieutenant Colonel US Army, Special Forces, who has participated in several military honor details as well as been an observer at many more. Colonel Benway writes:

I have served as officer in charge of several funeral details, and have attended many more in the course of 28 years of active military service, as well as in retirement. But, I do not recall ever having witnessed the flag-folding narrative you describe. While I sympathize with the perceived assault on the locally devised thirteen-part recitation you describe in your article, and while certainly a poignant gesture, it is not an authorized element of military graveside ceremonies conducted by DoD-provided ceremonial units or facilities, and for the purposes of your article, never has been.  

He provides the relevant instructions on the Honor Detail from the Army Field Manual:

d.   For flag folding, upon conclusion of "Taps," the representative and his assistant move closer to the casket. When the flag is secured and raised, the detail takes three steps away from the mourners and folds the flag. (See
Appendix K for detailed information on folding the flag.) When the flag is properly folded, the detail leader salutes the flag for three seconds.  The assistant hands the flag to the detail leader, salutes the flag for three seconds, and posts to a position next to the side or rear of the family. After the assistant departs, the detail leader presents the flag to the next of kin using the following wording: "Sir/Ma'am, this flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one." After presenting the flag, the detail leader offers condolences.

*    e.   Not all funerals will be authorized the human resources as outlined in this sequence of events; therefore the CAO and NCOIC will extract those portions of the sequence that apply to their funeral detail contingent.
      f.    Additions to an element of the funeral detail not specifically addressed in this sequence of events are not authorized. Requests for exceptions to policy will be directed to TRADOC.

And Colonel Benway sees room for compromise as well as his opinion that the practice is something local honor details came up with on their own:

I think the Field Manual leaves the door open to these non-DoD ceremonial organizations, at the request of the immediate family, to render their honors at the appropriate time. I believe the National Cemeteries Administration would be open to an objective and rational proposal to leverage existing policy to the benefit of all, with due consideration given to the extremely tight burial schedules at these facilities ... a major factor these days as a thousand WW II vets are dying each week.

Many thanks to Colonel Benway for the information and clarifications.

I received an email in response to my post yesterday about the Honor Details at veterans funerals being prevented from reciting a narrative as each of the 13 folds to the flag is accomplished from Kenneth J. Benway, a retired Lieutenant Colonel US Army, Special Forces, who has participated in several military honor details as well as been an observer at many more. Colonel Benway writes:

I have served as officer in charge of several funeral details, and have attended many more in the course of 28 years of active military service, as well as in retirement. But, I do not recall ever having witnessed the flag-folding narrative you describe. While I sympathize with the perceived assault on the locally devised thirteen-part recitation you describe in your article, and while certainly a poignant gesture, it is not an authorized element of military graveside ceremonies conducted by DoD-provided ceremonial units or facilities, and for the purposes of your article, never has been.  

He provides the relevant instructions on the Honor Detail from the Army Field Manual:

d.   For flag folding, upon conclusion of "Taps," the representative and his assistant move closer to the casket. When the flag is secured and raised, the detail takes three steps away from the mourners and folds the flag. (See
Appendix K for detailed information on folding the flag.) When the flag is properly folded, the detail leader salutes the flag for three seconds.  The assistant hands the flag to the detail leader, salutes the flag for three seconds, and posts to a position next to the side or rear of the family. After the assistant departs, the detail leader presents the flag to the next of kin using the following wording: "Sir/Ma'am, this flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one." After presenting the flag, the detail leader offers condolences.

*    e.   Not all funerals will be authorized the human resources as outlined in this sequence of events; therefore the CAO and NCOIC will extract those portions of the sequence that apply to their funeral detail contingent.
      f.    Additions to an element of the funeral detail not specifically addressed in this sequence of events are not authorized. Requests for exceptions to policy will be directed to TRADOC.

And Colonel Benway sees room for compromise as well as his opinion that the practice is something local honor details came up with on their own:

I think the Field Manual leaves the door open to these non-DoD ceremonial organizations, at the request of the immediate family, to render their honors at the appropriate time. I believe the National Cemeteries Administration would be open to an objective and rational proposal to leverage existing policy to the benefit of all, with due consideration given to the extremely tight burial schedules at these facilities ... a major factor these days as a thousand WW II vets are dying each week.

Many thanks to Colonel Benway for the information and clarifications.