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Around The Fleet

Committed to the Deep:

Carl Vinson honors the dead in burial at sea

"We are gathered today to honor the final wishes of former service members and their families by conducting military honors for committal at sea upon USS Carl Vinson."

These are the words spoken at the beginning of Carl Vinson's burial at sea ceremonies. An ancient tradition, United States Navy vessels around the world perform the ceremony hundreds of times per year.

Senior Chief Sara Page, Carl Vinson's navigation department leading chief petty officer, is no stranger to the ceremony. With more than 17 years in the Navy, Page has seen the dignity of interment at sea on four Navy ships and in distant waters.

One September morning, though, the words took on an entirely different meaning for Page. It would be the day she laid her father to rest.

Page's father, Julian John DeMiguel, Jr., served as a private first class in the Army during the Vietnam War. Page said his service is a part of the reason she chose a career in the Navy, and she wanted him to be honored as a United States Veteran.

"His service to the country has always inspired me," said Page. "After his passing, I knew I wanted him to receive military honors. When I heard Carl Vinson was conducting a burial at sea, I thought there would be no better way to honor my father."

After contacting Carl Vinson's command chaplain, the arrangements were made to inter Page's father at sea.

Preparations for the ceremony began almost immediately as Carl Vinson left San Diego. From the perfect alignment of the rifle squad to the sharpening of facing movements, the ceremony was practiced from beginning to end.

As the ceremony approached, the task of determining the best location and time for the ceremony fell to Page and her fellow quartermasters.

Burial-at-Sea



"We determined that 8 a.m. would be the best time for the ceremony," said Page. "We wanted to get the sunlight coming into the hangar bay. We also had to make sure we were in at least 600 feet of water and at least three nautical miles away from land."

As the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean, Carl Vinson was carefully maneuvered to bask in the rays of the morning light. The ship's mighty engines slowed. The roar of rushing water alongside the ship subsided, giving way to a quiet unfamiliar to the decks of an aircraft carrier at sea.

At precisely 8 o'clock, the ship's bell rang out eight times and word was passed to bury the dead.

Following a prayer and remarks from the commanding officer, Page and her father took their final walk together.

After the interment, Page was presented with a flag of the United States and shells from the 21-gun salute.

"To be able to say farewell to my father like this was an incredible experience," said Page. "As I said goodbye to him, today's ceremony reminded me of the traditions we have in the Navy. We are the legacy of those we lay to rest."

The morning had grown even brighter as the ceremony drew to a close. The benediction was read and the immaculate white uniforms slowly disappeared from the hangar bay, slowly giving way to the dark blue of coveralls interspersed with a rainbow of flight deck jerseys.

Page made her way off the hangar deck and up to the bridge. She said as a quartermaster, the sea is more than just a body of water. The navigation of it is her life's work, a bond that runs deep.

The light of the September morning when Page said farewell to her father has since faded and Carl Vinson has steamed many miles. The longitude and latitude are constantly changing; the speed of the ship will go up and down. Constant though, will be the vast ocean and her bond to it, newly strengthened by the memory of the man she called "dad."

For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) visit the command Facebook page at USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

If your loved one requests to be buried at sea from a U.S. Navy vessel please visit www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=204