CAMP PENDLETON — Military honors are given to those who have died and honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces, whether it is for four years or 40.
This year’s Honor Guard Marines of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton have been deservingly presenting that respect to veterans.
“The Honor Guard Marines have been practicing their drill routine since September of last year,” said Staff Sgt. Jason N. Dixon, one of the staff noncommissioned officers-in-charge of the Honor Guard, Headquarters and Service Company, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “During January through the end of April is when we conduct funerals and plan to conduct more than 30 services for veterans.”
“It isn’t easy, but I feel privileged to be a part of a team that conducts these services for our veterans who have honorably served,” said Cpl. Joe M. Cobian, a member of the rifle team, Headquarters and Service Company, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “It’s a service that must be provided and I couldn’t feel more honored to be a part of it.”
The battalion’s team holds biweekly practices, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for nearly two hours for each rehearsal. The Marines are expected to perform the drill movements flawlessly, so practice is imperative.
“We look for qualified individuals throughout the battalion that possess many of the Marine Corps leadership traits and are hard workers with the determination to accomplish a mission,” said Staff Sgt. Guillermo N. Monterrosa, one of the staff noncommissioned officers-in-charge of the Honor Guard, Alpha Company, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “After all, they are representing our battalion and Camp Pendleton when they are conducting a service.”
Funerals have been conducted with both coffins and urns, making the team adapt and overcome to each setting. The Marines spend plenty of time preparing for different scenarios.
“A funeral ceremony from start to finish might only take 30 minutes, however we still ensure that we get there with plenty of time to prepare for the ceremony,” said Lance Cpl. Edwin D. Cruz, a member of the rifle team, Headquarters and Service Company, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “There is a long list of things that could go wrong, so our team can’t be late to a ceremony. All-in-all we usually spend six hours on a service,” said Cruz.
Headquarters and Support Battalion’s honor guard is broken up into two teams; Alpha Company being one, and Headquarters and Service combined with Bravo Company being the other.
Each team has two details; a rifle detail, which performs the 21-gun salute made up of seven riflemen, a noncommissioned officer who directs the riflemen, and a bugler who plays “taps,” a military tradition to honor the deceased.
The flag detail is the other part of a team, made up of seven junior Marines and a staff-noncommissioned officer who presents the flag to the next of kin.