On Monday, July 15, 2013, we travelled to Arlington National Cemetery to say a final goodbye to Keith’s Dad, Edward W. Kenny, Jr., Col., US Air Force Retired.
Family and friends gathered at the Administration Building where the Cemetery Representative and Military Chaplain assigned to our funeral greeted us and explained the protocol. Just before 11:00 am, we lined our cars up behind the hearse and caravanned down Eisenhower Drive to the transfer site. Along a shaded section of Patton Drive waited an Air Force Color Guard, Military Band and Escort Platoon at full attention, and a Casket Team to transfer Dad’s coffin to the horse-drawn caisson.
All movements were prescribed, synchronized for precision and reverence to the flag-draped coffin, honoring the man who served his country. Step, step-side-slide; step, step-side-slide; step, step-side-slide: the pallbearers a silent drill team executed well-rehearsed procedures without command or facial movement beyond an occasion blink of beaded sweat.
Some mourners chose to walk behind the caisson while others moved the cars to the gravesite in section 64 where Firing Party and Bugler stood at the far ends of the field. Due to the intense heat and humidity, Keith approved a revised order to the ceremony with the Chaplain speaking after performances by the Band, 21-gun salute (7 guns in 3 volleys), Taps, and folding and presentation of the Flag so the young men and women in formal uniform could perform their duties then march out of the sun and 90+ degree heat sooner.
Family and friends lingered at the gravesite, many placing flowers on Dad’s coffin. Keith approved gravestones for Dad and his wife of 62 years Phyllis, Dad’s high school sweetheart. Mom died in 2006. After a family group picture, we met for lunch and visited, then departed to our respective homes.
Full honors, young men and women paying respect to a man who served our country in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and trained a generation of pilots. Full honors for the man’s family who shared his sacrifice, moving around the world, missing him when he had to be away from his wife and children, all knowing that he might not return.
Thanks be to God, Dad always returned, and now he’s home.