Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemetaries: Frequently Asked Questions Page: 3 of 5
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circumstances involved would bring discredit upon the person's service or former service.
This language expands upon P.L. 105-116 that Congress passed in 1997. That law barred
those convicted of capital crimes from being buried in a national cemetery. The 1997 law
was ostensibly passed to prevent the possibility of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy
McVeigh, a veteran, from being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. McVeigh was
put to death on June 11, 2001.
Section 404 of P.L. 109-461 required the removal of Russell Wayne Wagner's
remains from the columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery. An honorably discharged
Vietnam veteran, Wagner was convicted of killing an elderly Maryland couple in 1994.
Wagner died in 2005 while serving two life terms in prison. Because he was eligible for
parole, he qualified for burial at Arlington. Following protests from the murdered
couple's son, language was included in the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and
Information Technology Act of 2006, P.L. 109-461, requiring the removal of Wagner's
remains. The Superintendent of the Arlington Cemetery reported that the cremated
remains of Russell Wayne Wagner have been removed from Arlington National Cemetery
and turned over to his sister:
What Is the Required Composition
of a Military Funeral Honors Detail?
The military services operate under service-specific policies; the honors vary from
service to service and are dependent upon available resources. At the minimum, a funeral
honors detail consists of two members of the Armed Forces, at least one of which is a
member of the veteran's military service.
Funeral honors details may be augmented with volunteers who are military veterans
and who are members of veterans' service organizations, such as the American Legion
and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or other appropriate organizations. The Authorized
Provider Partnership Program (AP3) was established to provide training for these
volunteers to standardize the quality of the honors rendered. Volunteers can participate
as firing party members, pallbearers, and buglers, among other duties. When a trained
bugler is not available, a recorded version of Taps may be played. DOD also approved
the use of a ceremonial bugle, which contains a device in the bell of the bugle that plays
a recorded version of Taps.
Who Is Responsible for Making the Arrangements
for Honors to Be Performed?
Honors are not performed automatically; they must be requested. Families of
eligible veterans must request funeral honors through their funeral director. The funeral
director is to contact the appropriate military service to arrange for the funeral honors
s Document available at [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rwwagner.htm].
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Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemetaries: Frequently Asked Questions, report, February 5, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc810632/m1/3/: accessed July 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.