Robert B. Hayman
Commander, United States Navy
a contemporary press report:
Arlington funeral a moving experience
Veteran gets fitting send-off at America's sacred ground
By NANCY BOSARGE
COURTESY OF THE SUN HERALD
ARLINGTON, Virginia - The long mahogany casket was drawn by four gray horses down the paved road to burial in a grave of honors at Arlington National Cemetery on August 26, 2004. Our grieving family followed the slow-moving casket with sadness in our hearts, but felt honored that our loved one would be buried here in a ceremony well deserved.
My uncle, Robert (Bob) Hayman of Florida, lost his battle with acute leukemia in June 2004. In his last months, he let his family know that he wanted to be buried at Arlington, said his daughter, Cathy Kaiser.
His wife of 51 years, Marie, says it was what he wanted. He served his country for many years. Bob was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in World War II. He attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and later graduated from Columbia University in New York City, where he served as Battalion Commander of Navy ROTC, receiving degrees from MIT, Fordham University and Bettis Reactor Engineering School in Pittsburgh. He retired as a Naval Commander after 21 years. He helped develop the nuclear Navy.
Cemetery has waiting list
It took two months for an open date to be available for burial at Arlington. Embalming kept the body preserved until burial.
"There are so many World War II veterans dying that we average about 28 burials a day," said William Vogelson Jr., interment services specialist at Arlington National Cemetery.
Arlington National Cemetery is where more than 260,000 people have been buried. Many of them are fallen heroes who have been laid to rest after faithfully serving their country. This is where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is, where two presidents are buried along with veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present military action. Rows of white headstones line the 612 acres. More than four million people visit it annually.
News of Bob's death came to my mother and Bob's sister, Sally Kelly, about a month after her older sister Betty died of a sudden heart attack, and we were all saddened by the news.
Funeral reunited family
Out of the nine children in our family, my sister Sally and I made plans to attend the funeral, as did my sister Beth and her family, and my brother Patrick and his family who live about an hour from Arlington. Betty's daughter, Patty, came to the burial. All of Bob's eight children, who traveled from throughout the U.S., were able to make it - Bob Jr., George, Edward, Cathy, Anne, Elizabeth, William and John, and many of his 18 grandchildren were able to make it as well.
There were cousins I hadn't seen in more than 30 years. It is sad that such an occasion would be the thing that brought us together.
The remains of a veteran are sent overnight through the U.S. Postal Service and picked up by a funeral home chosen by the family, then taken to the cemetery. The funeral home representative attends the service.
Service rife with patriotism
The service for Bob was at 3 p.m. so we all arrived at the Administration Building at Arlington around 2 p.m. There is a waiting room for veterans' relatives, and that is where we gathered. Bob Hayman Jr. was in full Navy dress. He retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, serving 20 years. He said that former and present military servicemen could wear full dress for the ceremony and walk in the procession if they wished.
"This is what my father wanted and my father served the military well," said Bob Jr. The type of ceremony depends on the rank of the deceased, and Bob's was with full Navy honors, which includes a military band, a bugler, a color guard, a firing party, an escort platoon and a military chaplain.
When it was time for the burial, the Arlington representative came and we all followed in our cars in a procession behind the hearse. About a quarter of a mile from the site the procession stopped and while a military band played, six Navy soldiers transferred the casket from the hearse to a caisson drawn by four beautiful gray horses.
After the transfer was complete we followed the wagon to the burial site, where chairs where set up for the family. While the band played, the six Navy soldiers placed the casket on the burial site and they stood holding our country's flag tightly over the coffin and saluting during the whole service.
Since Uncle Bob had been Catholic, Arlington had a Catholic chaplain officiate the service. When the chaplain was through, the military band played taps and several other songs and Navy soldiers shot off three volleys from seven rifles. Then the Navy soldiers folded the flag with an intricate military precision saluting when each was done with his part of the flag. The folding of the flag is an awesome ceremony in itself. It was presented to Marie by an officer.
An Arlington woman who is a representative of the Navy attended the service and shook hands with all the family members, giving condolences to them all.
It was a wonderful ceremony befitting a man who gave so much to his country.
Bob's family had arranged for all of us to have dinner at the Officer's Club at Fort Myer, which was just about 10 minutes from the cemetery.
We had dinner, caught up on news of all the families and promised we'd stay in touch. My mother said that Bob and her sister, Betty, were probably smiling down from heaven, well pleased with the day's events.
I'm positive they were and my trip to Arlington
made a lasting impression on me and I know it was on hallowed ground on
which I walked.