Volunteer State War Era Veterans Honor Guard


American Hero Dying For Freedom

Isn't The Worst That Can Happen

Being Forgotten is! ...

"A Nation Reveals Itself Not Only By

The Men It Produces, But Also By The

Men It Honors. "

John F. Kennedy, President




Military Funeral Honors Ceremony Information

Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard

Keeping The Promise



Today, there are over 33 million living American Veterans (they are the Forgotten Veterans) who participated in America's wars.   Nationally there are more than two

 million living war era veterans who bear the physical and mental scars of wars fought during their lives.  In the East Tennessee area alone, there are over 70,000 and Knox

County has over 40,000. With every day that passes, many veterans who stood in defense of our country die.  Their only memorials are the grave sites throughout America.

What these men and women gave for America holds an important message that must never leave our thoughts.  "Freedom is not Free!"  Our war era veterans, those

courageous men and women, paid that price for our freedom. It's important to remember that the price of freedom is measured in blood as well as in death. The blood that

millions spilled on the battlefields. They lost limbs, sight, and had minds shattered by the horror of war.  The lost health that will never return. Our combat veterans bear

the scars of war as a living reminder of its cost.  This is the price for our freedom.  And they continue to pay that price long after the war's end. Without belittling the courage

with which men and women have died, we should remember the courage with which they have lived.


Chaplain Lieutenant Chuck Sayne conducting Funeral Services for the deceased veteran


Chaplain Major Mike Inman conducting prayer for the deceased veteran


Who is Eligible for Military Funeral Honors?


The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the deep gratitude to those who, in the time of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country.

Military Funeral Honors may be rendered to the following veterans:


Prior Active Duty Veterans


Eligibility For Interment

(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)

1.  Any person who served on active duty in the Armed forces of the United States (Army, Marine corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard) who was discharged

or released under Honorable Conditions.

2. Any Member of the Armed Forces of the United States who died while on active duty.

3.  Any person who entered active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, or as an officer after October 16, 1981, must serve a minimum or 24 consecutive

 months or was released due to a service connected disability.


Reserve and National Guard Members


Eligibility For Interment

  (Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)

  Reserve and National Guard members who were entitled to retired pay for service at the time of death or would have been entitled upon reaching requisite age.

  Reserve and National Guard members are also eligible for burial under the three (3) categories listed below and do not have to pay the plot allowance cost

1.  Dies while on active duty for training or inactive duty training.

2.  If called to active duty, completes the full period for which called.

3.  Discharged due to service connected disability or hardship discharge while on active duty.

Military Funeral Honors may not be rendered to any individual separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions, convicted of a Federal or State capital crime

 sentenced to death or life imprisonment. The preferred method to determine a veterans eligible is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from activity duty.

If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD form 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard

Form 180 from the National Personal Records and sending it to : Funeral Director will help with this request. The next of kin may coordinate with the Tennessee Military

Department War Records Division (615) 313-2664), for assistance in securing discharge papers. If the veteran resided in another state at the time of discharge, the next of

kind will need to contact that state's war records division. The Funeral Director will help this request.


 Veteran, Spouse and Eligible Children Cost


(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)


1. Veterans:  There is no cost if eligibility requirements are met.

2. Spouse/ Dependents;  There is a fee for interment of a Veterans' spouse or eligible dependent children, that must be paid the day of the burial.


The same guide lines apply.

For eligible depends the cost of the Niche. (currently available at the Veterans Cemetery, John Sevier Highway, Knoxville, Tennessee)


How Do I Request Military Funeral Honors?


Families of eligible veterans request Military Funeral Honors through their funeral director and request that the Military Funeral Honors be performed by the

Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard . The funeral director will call our Honor Guard Coordinator with date and time of the veterans interment along

with instructions.


What Family Documentation Is Required for  Military Funeral Honors?


(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)

1. Full name of Veteran

2. Date of birth

3. Service and/or social security number

4. Service dates:  entry and discharge from active duty. (This information can be found in the Veterans discharge papers or DD Form 214)


If I Can't Locate the proper Documents, How Do I Request Them?


The next of kin may coordinate with the Tennessee Military Department War Records Division, (615-313-2664), for assistance in securing discharge papers.

If the veteran resided in a state other than Tennessee at the time of discharged, the next of kin will need to contact that state's War Records Division.


How Do I Request a Burial Flag?


Burial flags are provide by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at no cost. Only one funeral flag may be provided per veteran. Flags may be obtained

from any VA regional office and most US Post Offices by completing VA Form 2008, Application for United States Flag for Funeral Purposes, and submitting it

with a copy of the veteran's discharge papers at any of those location. The Funeral director will help with this request.







(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011) All veterans

 are entitled to a white, upright marble headstone at government expense when buried in a State Veterans' Cemetery. Headstones  are requested at the

time of interment. A temporary grave marker  is used to identify gravesite until the permanent headstone is delivered in  three to  four months.


Only in State/National Veterans Cemeteries

Headstones Include

Date of Birth to Date of Death

Branch of Service


Religious Emblem


Medals (achievement medals and higher)

Inscription up to 30 Characters


Eligible Dependents

In the case where a Veteran and eligible dependent are buried in the same plot, the dependent name, date of birth,

date of death and inscription of up to 30 characters will be included on the reverse side of the veterans headstone.


All other Cemeteries

If the veteran is not being interned in a State Veterans' Cemetery, the family will have to make arrangements with the

Funeral Home to provide a marker. See Grave Markers (Footstone) and Medallions below.


Grave Markers


Sample flat granite grave marker    Sample bronze niche marker   Sample flat bronze grave marker

Flat Types


Sample flat bronze grave marker

Flat Bronze

The flat bronze grave marker is 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, with 3/4 inch rise. Weight is approximately 18 pounds. Anchor bolts, nuts and washers

for fastening to a base are furnished with the marker. The government does not furnish a base.


Sample flat granite grave marker

Flat Granite or Flat Marble

The flat granite and flat marble grave marker is 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Weight is approximately 130 pounds. Variations may

occur in stone color; the marble may contain light to moderate veining. (Shown is the Flat Granite)


Sample bronze niche marker

Bronze Niche

This niche marker is 8 1/2 inches long, 5 1/2 inches wide, with 7/16 inch rise. Weight is approximately 3 pounds; mounting bolts and washers

are furnished with the marker.




The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing, privately purchased headstone or marker to

signify the deceased's status as a Veteran. This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or grave marker for those Veterans

whose death occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.


Memorial Markers


(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)

1. Markers are available to memorialize Veterans whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science

or cremated and scattered.2. Markers inscription will begin with "In memory of".3. There is no fee when placed in a State Veterans cemetery.


Outside Containers

(Reference: Memorializing Those Who Served, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Pamphlet # 323045, December, 2011)

The State of Tennessee does not require an outside container for burial. This is a personal preference of the family


How to Clean Headstones


Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning  Government Issued Headstones1 

What Military Funeral Honors Are Rendered By The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard?

Depending upon the availability of personnel, the following Military Funeral Honors will be rendered by the Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard for the

 deceased veteran. Military Funeral Honors: The core elements of the Military Funeral Honors ceremony, which will be conducted are: Flag Folding Ceremony

Flag Presentation to next of kin Sounding of Taps In addition to the above core elements, the Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard will also provide the

 following upon request Ceremonial Rifle Volley, Military Pall Bearers and Military Chaplin


How Much Does a Military Funeral Honors Ceremony Cost?


Military Funeral Honors are provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to the family.  There is a fee for the interment of a veteran's spouse, or

 eligible dependant children, that must be paid the day of the funeral. The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard would be honored to receive a contribution.

 The State of Tennessee does not require an outside container for burial. This is a personal preference of the family. All veterans are entitled to a white, upright

 marble headstone at government expensewhen buried in a State Veterans' Cemetery. A temporary grave maker is used to identify gravesite until the permanent

headstone is delivered in approximately three to four months.


How Much Notice Should Be Provided For The Military Funeral Honors Request?


The Services requests at least 48 hours in order to organize the funeral honors detail.

Burial at Sea



Other Related Links



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Additional Services for Military Funeral Honors Listed Below


All Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Will

Receive Piping from the Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard


Boatswains have been in charge of the deck force since the days of sail. Setting sails, heaving lines, and hosting anchors required coordinated team

effort and boatswains used whistle signals to order the coordinated actions. When visitors were hoisted aboard or over the side, the pipe was used to

order "Hoist Away" or "Avast heaving." In time, piping became a naval honor on shore as well as at sea.








Bagpipes are played to remember our fallen comrades and express our grief at their loss. They remind us of the brave deeds of the warriors that came before us. The sound of the pipes is the music of our strongest emotions. If you are interested in having the pipes played, please contact:











General Information about Military Funeral Honors

1. Funeral services of great magnificence evolved as custom (from what is known about early Christian mourning) in the 6th century. To this day, no religious ceremonies are conducted with more pomp than those intended to commemorate the departed.

2. The funerals of soldiers, more than any other ceremony, have followed an old pattern as the living honor the brave dead.

3. The first general mourning proclaimed in America was on the death of Benjamin Franklin in 1791 and the next on the death of George Washington in 1799. The deep and widespread grief occasioned by the death of the first President assembled a great number of people for the purpose of paying him a last tribute of respect, and on Wednesday, 18 December 1799, attended by military honors and the simplest but grandest ceremonies of religion, his body was deposited in the family vault at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

4. Several military traditions employed today have been brought forward from the past

(a) Reversed arms, displayed by one opponent on the battlefield. signaled that a truce was requested so that the dead and wounded could be carried off and the dead buried.

(b) The custom of using a caisson to carry a coffin most likely had its origins in the 1800ís when horse-drawn caissons that pulled artillery pieces also doubled as a conveyance to clear fallen soldiers from the battlefield.

 (c) In the mid to late 1800ís a funeral procession for a mounted officer or enlisted man was accompanied by a riderless horse followed by a hearse. It was also a custom to have the boots of the deceased thrown over the saddle with heels to the front signifying that his march was ended.

A riderless horse followed by a hearse.

Caisson carrying a veterans coffin

Reversed Arms

Most often associated with funeral honors, the rifle would be reversed, with the butt in front of the shoulder and the left arm extended across the small of the back and the left hand grasping the barrel. The right and would be grasping the stock neck. There are several variations of the this carry position.















National AMVETS Riders





                                                                                                                                           Dove Release






Dove Release Video

To View Video, Click On Link Below

Length 3:31




                                                     Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard Military Pallbearers













Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard Ceremonial Rifle Volley


(Old) East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery (Lyons View), Knoxville, Tennessee

(New) East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery (John Sevier), Knoxville, Tennessee

The Hills of East Tennessee

National Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee

Today's customary three volleys fired over a grave probably originated as far back as the Roman Empire. The Roman funeral rites of casting dirt three times at the coffin

constituted the "burial." It was customary among the Romans to call the dead three times by name which ended the funeral ceremony, after which the friends and relatives

of the deceased pronounced the word "vale" (farewell) three times as they departed from the tomb. In more recent history, three musket volleys were fired to announce that

 the burying of the dead was completed and the burial party was ready for battle again. In today's ceremony, three to eight riflemen will fire three volley's in honor of the

 deceased veteran.

Note: The term "21 Gun Salute" is a salute using 21 Cannons and is reserved for the President of the United States only.


Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard TAPS


National Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee

Bugler - Lieutenant Chuck Sayne

East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery (John Sevier)

Bugler, Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Church


East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery (Lions View), Knoxville, Tennessee

Bugler - Sergeant First Class Donald Booker


There is a tangible feeling that soldiers, veterans, and family members share at the playing of Taps. The uninitiated may call it romantic, but Taps doesnít call to mind,

heart or soul, the amorous feelings of love. It evokes rather poignant feelings of fealty, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Those who have never stood in harmís way may

 never fully understand the allegiant bond, the sense of loss, nor the appreciative acceptance of valor offered by those who have lived and served well in defending our

 nation. Taps signals that unauthorized lights are to be extinguished.  This is the last call of the day.  The call is also sounded at the completion of a military funeral

ceremony. Taps is for those who have known their duty and done it Ö for those who have sacrificed for their country with honor Ö for those who have loved their

country and served it well. Taps is the music of the soldierís soul. We have all heard the haunting melody of "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats

and usually tears in our eyes. But do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about its rather controversial humble beginnings.


Romantic Story Version:

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The

Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who was severely wounded

on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling

on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward the encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own

lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock.

In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out .Without telling his father,

the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status.

His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The

request was denied since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him one musician. The Captain chose a bugler.

He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting

 melody, which we now know as "Taps" used at military funerals, was born TAPS


The Words of TAPS

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.



The Other Story Version: 

Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is

 interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. In the British Army, a similar call known as Last Post has been sounded over soldiers' graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is

unique with the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.

Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) at the end of the day. Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for Extinguish Lights was the one set down

in Silas Casey's (1801-1882) Tactics, which had been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union General Daniel Butterfield for his brigade (Third Brigade,

 First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July, 1862.

Daniel Adams Butterfield (31 October 1831-17 July 1901) was born in Utica, New York and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was the eastern superintendent of the

 American Express Company in New York when the Civil War broke out. Despite his lack of military experience, he rose quickly in rank. A Colonel in the 12th Regiment of the New

 York State Militia, he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The 12th served in the Shenandoah Valley

during the the Bull Run Campaign. During the Peninsular Campaign Butterfield served prominently when during the Battle of Gaines Mill, despite an injury, he seized the colors of

 the 83rd Pennsylvania and rallied the regiment at a critical time in the battle. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of heroism.

As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days end and with the help of the brigade

 bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Day's battle. These battles took place during the

Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The call, sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the Confederates. Taps was made an

official bugle call after the war.


 Flag Draped Casket - Cremation Urn





A United States flag drapes the casket or is folded and placed next to the Cremation Urn of deceased veterans to honor the memory of their service to the country.  The flag is

placed so the union Blue Field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. The ceremonial folding and presentation of that flag is a moving tribute of lasting importance

to the veteranís family.



Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard Folding the Burial Flag .











KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A local veteran received a special honor Friday, for the second time.

They call it the highest honor a fallen veteran receives, the rifle salute. Then "Taps" is played to let the Veteran know his work is done, it's time to rest. But,

it wasn't a funeral, it was a re-dedication ceremony for U.S. Army Veteran Roy Willie Veals. Chaplain Michael Inman, with the Volunteer State Veterans Honor

Guard, said, "We're just very pleased to honor this man who served our country so nobly during World War II." Veals was buried in the Holliway Cemetery,

off Robertson Road in West Knox County, 30 years ago this month. But, his grave marker has not been there that long. Inman said, "It's very sad for somebody

to desecrate a grave of somebody that served their country. "Veals' grave marker was found at a scrap yard back in May and the Sheriff's Department asked

Nathan Weinbaum, Veterans Service Office, for help finding it's proper home. Weinbaum said, "I just knew that we needed to find out where it belonged and it

was like a puzzle, took a few months." I actually kept it the marker in my trunk for a few weeks, because I didn't know where it belonged," he explained. But,

the pieces slowly came together, as many tried to track down the family and the cemetery. They were ready for the ceremony when they tracked down the man who

dug the grave in 1981, and he told tell them where to put the marker. Veals' cousin Mary said, "We didn't know it was gone. "She was happy to see her cousin's

marker back, and even happier with the ceremony he received. "Oh good grief, it does me, I'm so happy I don't know what to do," she said. She also took home

a flag, that once flew over

the capital, in honor of the fallen WWII Veteran. "Someone can be gone for 30 years but we're not going to forget about our Veterans," said Weinbaum. The

Veals family said they hope the people who stole the marker are caught, and others realize the few dollars in scrap metal, is not worth the pain the loss caused.

After TAPS has been played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape that represents the shape of cocked hat of the colonial soldiers.

he Flag is then presented to the veteran's next of kin.


 Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard Presenting the Burial Flag and Memory Folder













Lieutenant Colonel Charles Davis Presenting the Memory Folder to Family Member


Order of Succession for Receiving the Burial Flag at a Military Funeral

For a service member, the Primary Next-of-Kin (PNOK) line of succession is as follows: 


Sons or daughters in the order of age, oldest first 

Oldest parent, unless legal custody was granted to another person 

Blood or adoptive relative granted legal custody 

Brothers or sisters in the order of age, oldest first 

Oldest grandparent 

Other relative in accordance with laws of deceased's domicile 

If the deceased was serving on Active Duty, he/she would have appointed a PNOK (Primary Next-Of-Kin) in writing. That is the person whom the Military

would notify if something happens to the Service member. It is NOT necessarily the surviving spouse. The Service member may have listed a PNOK and

then one or more "alternates". That is the order the Military uses for notification and may also use for presenting the burial flag at a Military funeral. If the

deceased was a Veteran (someone who died after being discharged from the service), the funeral director should ask the family who will receive the burial

flag and then inform the leader of the Honor Guard, usually when the procession arrives at the cemetery. If there is any dispute, the order is as follows

(assuming the Veteran has not left written instructions)  


The Veteran's children in the order of their age (oldest has priority, regardless of sex). If the Veteran has children from another marriage, the children of

the current marriage have priority, followed by the children of the earlier marriage in age-order (oldest first, regardless of sex) 

The Veteran's parents (father and then mother, although the older of the two should be given the option) 

The Veteran's siblings in the order of their age (oldest has priority, regardless of sex) 

The Veteran's grandparents (grandfather and then grandmother, although the older of the two should be given the option)

Other relative in accordance with the laws of the deceased's state of residence



Effective April 17, 2012, the Department of Defense standardized the flag presentation verbiage for Military Funeral Honors

Ceremony. The following verbiage will be used for ALL Military Branches when presenting the American Flag to the next of

kin during the funeral service.


On behalf of the President of the United States,  the (NAME THE BRANCH OF SERVICE)  and a

grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved oneís honorable

and faithful service.



The Memory Folder will be Presented to the Next of Kin


Presidential Memorial Certificate Application

TAPS Certificate

Telephone and email references for veterans affairs inquires

Application for a Medallion to families that bury the veteran in a public/private Cemetery

Other information about the flag and Taps


The information  on this certificate is taken from the veterans DD-214


The Presidential Memorial Certificate



President John F. Kennedy initiated the Presidential Memorial Certificate Program, in March 1962. All subsequent presidents have continued to

support the program. Statutory authority for the program is Section 112, Title 38 of the Uniform States Code. A PMC is an engraved paper certificate

signed by the current President. The PMC is presented to the next of kin, honoring the memory of honorable discharged deceased veterans. The

President's signature expressed the countries grateful recognition of the veteran's service in the United States Armed Forces. The Department of

Veterans Affairs administers the program. Eligible recipients or someone acting on their behalf may apply to the Veterans Affairs Office in person,

by US mail, or fax. See information below:

Department of Veterans Affairs

5109 Russell Road

Quantico, VA  22143-3903

Fax Number (202) 565-8054

 A Certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased veteran must accompany this Presidential Memorial Certificate Application  for issuance

of the Presidential Memorial Certificate. The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard provides the Presidential Memorial Certificate application and

instructions to the next of kin that received the burial flag at the end of the internment ceremony.


For more information or to schedule a Military Funeral Honors or 

Memorial Honors, please contact our Honor Guard Coordinator: 


Major David Caldwell

 Phone: (865)-659-4811




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