Members of the military quickly organized an honor cordon on April 19 for a veteran who passed away from the novel coronavirus at a field hospital in New York City.
It was an event senior leaders at the Jacob Javits Convention Center had already thought about holding if a veteran died in the hospital’s care, explained Sgt. Maj. Robert Jenks in a new release. Jenks, a member of the New York Army National Guard’s 53rd Digital Liaison Detachment, is serving as the sergeant major for the Incident Command.
Senior NCOs coordinated with chaplains at the facility to determine the protocols to follow, and worked with American Legion Post 178 in Dutchess County to obtain 15 casket flags.
The male veteran died Saturday, April 18, but because of the high number of COVID-19 deaths, the funeral home was unable to say when it could send staff to the field hospital to pick up the veteran’s remains.
With a five-minute warning before a hearse arrived to collect the remains the next day, Command Sgt. Maj. Morgan Cady and Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Pardi, members of the New York Army National Guard, put their plan into action.
Calls went out to hospital staff and word quickly spread — at least 60 people gathered in the loading area to bid farewell to a veteran they did not know. Those in attendance represented each of the military services, as well as federal, state and local first responders.
Army Maj. Ivan Arreguin, chaplain for the 44th Medical Brigade, conducted a short service, according to the release.
“It felt like I was participating in the burial of an unknown soldier known only by God,” Arreguin said.
“It was solemn, respectful, honoring, and with the key elements normally performed at a military funeral," he added.
Stephen Weigand is digital content editor at Sightline Media Group.