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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TAPS: Staff Sergeant George F. Richer

Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

Last night, somebody slipped a note under my door.

I don't know who it was, but I'm very VERY grateful for that thoughtful gesture!

The note announced the burial this morning of Staff Sergeant George F. Richer, United States Air Force (Retired) in the United States Soldiers' Home National Cemetery.

If I hadn't received the note, I wouldn't have known about it.

Even though the cemetery is just across the street, I'd never been there before, so I decided to drive my pickup truck.

That turned out to be a good idea, for it was snowing, and I was all dressed up, wearing my medals, my cavalry spurs, and my cavalry stetson.

To represent my ancient Highland clan, I wore my tartan necktie, with the clan badge pinned to it.

The graveside service began at 0900 hours.

His family was there, and at least four residents of the Old Soldiers' Home were present.

The United States Air Force Honor Guard was there, and they performed sharply, doing everything correctly, in a fine military manner.

The service was conducted by an Air Force colonel, the official chaplain for the Honor Guard.

A rifle team fired three volleys, and the bugler sounded "TAPS".

In speaking of his life, they said he'd begun his military career in the Army Air Force, which later became the United States Air Force, and that he served in the Merchant Marine and retired from the United States Air Force with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

They also said he dreamed of going to Texas and having a cattle ranch.

When I used to eat chow with George, he told me about life in Mississippi, and that he'd served with Merrill's Marauders in the China - Burma - India campaign.

None of that was mentioned at his burial service.

The service lasted for twenty-five minutes, and we all dispersed.

In the future, the administration here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home should provide transportation for residents who wish to attend a graveside service in our Soldiers' Home National Cemetery.

Further, when a graveside service is scheduled at the Soldiers' Home National Cemetery, the gate behind the Grant Building should be unlocked and opened, in order to better facilitate ambulatory pedestrian traffic to and from the Soldiers' Home and the cemetery.

Is that too much to ask?

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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