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Air Force Funeral Services: Full Honor Graveside Funerals


General Information:

Air Force Full Honor funerals at Arlington National Cemetery may include the following elements:

  • Bodybearers team

  • A Color Guard

  • A Firing Party

  • A Bugler

  • Honor Guard Flight

  • Air Force Ceremonial Brass Band

  • Air Force Chaplain

  • Arlington Lady, who represents the Chief of Staff, USAF

  • Escort for Arlington Lady

Specific Information:

The religious leader conducting the service should go to the Administration Building at least 30 minutes prior thereto, which gives you time to meet with the family, the chaplain, and with the cemetery representative. There you will find out where the transfer point is. For civilian clergy, an Air Force chaplain will serve as your escort for those services where honors are rendered. For specific information, contact the cemetery representative upon arrival or call the Air Force Chaplain Section at (703) 695-4584.

Transfer Point

  • The chaplain will act as your escort. The cemetery representative can also help you regarding protocol.

  • You will stand next to the chaplain and NCOIC/OIC and await the arrival of the funeral procession, the transfer ceremony begins at this time. This ceremony will formally transfer the casket/urn to the caisson. For an urn, ANC uses a special casket, already placed on the caisson, to hold the urn.

  • Prepare to salute (Civilian dress: place your right hand over your heart) when the chaplain does. Follow your escorting chaplain once the remains are secure on the caisson.

Funeral Procession

  • Wait with the chaplain at a designated area until the marching units, including the band and marching element, go by, saluting (Civilian dress: hand over heart) when the flag goes past.

  • At this point you may walk with the escorting chaplain to the place of burial, or ride in the funeral processional. See Processional Diagram and the Symbol Chart for more information.

To the Grave Site from the Curb

  • The bodybearers will remove the casket/urn from the caisson and prepare to march to the gravesite. See the diagram for more information.

  • Casket: Follow the chaplain's lead as the bodybearers make five step formal turn. Urn: Follow the chaplain's lead after the bodybearers have secured the remains.

  • Lead the processional to the gravesite. You can see the diagram for more information.

At the Grave Site

  • Stand near your escort by the Arlington Lady, allowing enough room for the body bearers to move to the grave.

  • The bodybearers will position the remains over the grave and unfold the flag, holding it taut over the remains. The chaplain will cue you to begin the religious services at the grave.

  • The chaplain and the bodybearers will look for you to step back at the end of your service to indicate that you are finished. You may stand with the family or go back to where you were standing previously.

  • Following your services, military honors will be rendered.

  • Military honors consist of three rifle volleys by seven riflemen, "Taps" by a military bugler, and the formal folding of the flag.

  • The chaplain receives the folded flag from one of the bodybearers and remains in place until the music stops. The chaplain then presents the flag to the next of kin, (unless other arrangements are made).

  • The chaplain will render a final salute to the flag.

  • The Arlington Lady then offers condolences. You are welcome to do the same after she concludes.

  • The cemetery representative announces that services have ended, and invites people to return to their cars.

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