Marines Support California Ford Funeral Activities
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2006 More than 500 servicemembers are on the ground in California supporting the funeral activities for former president Gerald R. Ford today.
Ford’s remains will be received with military ceremony at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif., this afternoon.
After the arrival ceremony and a private family prayer service and visitation, the remains will lie in repose with a military Guard of Honor at the church until tomorrow morning. At that time they will be flown to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for the Washington, D.C., portion of the state funeral.
The support troops for the California funeral activities include more than 400 Marines from nearby Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., and surrounding bases, along with augmentees from the other military services, said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Cox, public affairs officer for Twentynine Palms.
“In spite of the hard work -- and everyone’s working as hard as you would expect -- we’re all really proud and really happy to offer this salute to a great man and a great president,” Cox said.
The troops are handling every support aspect for the ceremony, including public affairs, food service, transportation, medical care and logistics, he said.
Two Marine Corps bands are playing at the ceremony, and an artillery salute battery from the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, will provide the salute when Ford’s body leaves California tomorrow, Cox said.
The ceremonial units actually involved in the funeral are from the Military District of Washington, and the rest of the Marines on the ground are supporting them, he said.
About 100 members of a joint service honor guard from throughout the National Capital arrived Dec. 27 in Palm Desert, Calif., where Ford will lie in repose today and tomorrow morning. A military honor guard will accompany Ford’s remains as they are flown to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., tomorrow. There, a joint service honor cordon and color guard will meet them for a 5:30 p.m. arrival ceremony.
Ford’s remains will be taken in a motorcade through Washington, D.C., en route to the U.S. Capitol. The motorcade will pause in front of the World War II Memorial, a tribute to Ford’s service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Ford will lie in state in the chambers of the House and Senate until Jan. 2, when his remains will be taken to the Washington National Cathedral for a state funeral.
Following the state funeral, Ford’s body will be flown to Grand Rapids, Mich., for burial on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in the former president’s hometown. There, he will lie in repose before being moved at 1 p.m. Jan. 3 for a private funeral service at Grace Episcopal Church. Following the ceremony, the casket will be returned to the presidential museum for burial.
The nation will observe a day of mourning Jan. 2. Most federal offices will be closed.