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New Policy Allows 'Active Duty Designees' Arlington Inurnment

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2002 – A rule change announced in June allows inurnments with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery for individuals who served America in World Wars I and II in ways other than the traditional military services.

Members of 37 groups, including the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, and the Merchant Marines, are known as "active duty designees." Such designees were considered civilian or contractual employees in nature during both world wars but have since been recognized as eligible for laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since 1977, members of these groups have been eligible to have their cremated remains inurned in Arlington National Cemetery's columbarium. Now they are eligible to be inurned with full military honors including a military chaplain, the playing of Taps, and a military detail to serve as body bearers, to conduct a rifle salute, and to fold and present an American flag to the family of the deceased, Army officials said.

Members of these groups are not eligible for interment in the grounds at Arlington in their own right by reason of service. DoD officials have expressed concern for years over dwindling burial spaces in the cemetery. Cemetery officials are planning a second columbarium, but its completion date hasn't been set.

An Army news release provided more information about the groups now eligible for honors. The release said most of the active duty designees served in World War II. The Merchant Marines are the largest single group of new eligibles. About 243,000 people served in the Merchant Marine and 9,349 were killed during World War II, the Army release said.

Active duty designees include American Field Service members who served as ambulance drivers during both World Wars, civilian employees aboard some ships, civilian Navy Identification Friend or Foe technicians who served in the combat areas of the Pacific during World War II, and civilian crewmen of certain U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey vessels.

For more information on Arlington National Cemetery or on internment or inurnment there, go to www.arlingtoncemetery.org.

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