How The U.S. Coast Guard Granted One Veteran His Burial at Sea

by Owen James Burke


Burials at sea are far from uncommon within the armed forces–they’re free, in fact–but hardly are they ever so elaborate as this.

United States Coast Guard Veteran and Norwegian immigrant Andrew Haines spent 10 years building models of Viking ships based on blueprints his cousin had sent from across the pond in Norway. That may seem a long time to spend building ship models, but take a look at the elaborate lapstrake (the hull structure), and the perfect symmetry of the vessel pictured above. Then consider that Mr. Haines constructed alone with only one hand, after a 1975 boating accident which took his arm and ended his career as a commercial fisherman.

One day his son, Andy, stumbled upon a nearly completed shell in his father’s basement, (he built five in all) and recalling that he had wanted to be cremated, proposed to him the idea of a Viking funeral, with which he was of course thrilled. They then presented the idea to the Coast Guard, who were probably thrilled to take part in a funerary procession beyond their normal scattering of ashes and flowers.

Mr. Haines passed away of natural causes on August 26th of this year, and his wishes were met.

The boat and the family were taken offshore where the boat was launched with Mr. Haines’ remains and a pile of sawdust. A flair was detonated in the center of the boat, and during the 20 minutes that it was ablaze, the family said their last words while a crewman read the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, “Crossing the Bar.”

Rest in Peace, Mr. Haines.

Read more at Navy Times — OB

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