Tifton family disappointed at military funeral - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tifton family disappointed at military funeral

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

July 24, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -  Margaret Forehand just buried her husband of 60 years.

But she says he didn't receive the funeral he deserved.  "They call him the greatest generation, but it seems like they are forgetting the greatest generation."

84-year-old Ernest Forehand served 30 years with the Navy.  He's got the medals to demonstrate his heroic efforts in three wars--World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam. 

But when he died last week, his family says they had a hard time getting the Navy to return the favor.

"He would be disappointed to know we had to work so hard to get the military honors," Forehand says.

They believe Forehand deserved a military funeral with honors. That's a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, and a flag presentation.

But getting it set up was harder then they thought.  "We called the navy in Jacksonville.  They said they'd send three sailors to fold and present the flag and play a CD of taps."

His family called everyone, from Moody Air Force Base to the White House. Finally, a family member in the Army got the Army Honor Guard from Fort Benning to do the rest.

But when the day came, they say the Navy didn't show up.

"They didn't represent Grandfather, and that hurt us because he believed in the Navy and for them not to be here, it really hurt us," says Stephanie Burgess, Forehand's granddaughter.

The Navy said their days were mixed up, and along with an honor guard from Atlanta, will hold a memorial service at his grave this Saturday.

"We are just thankful our grandfather is going to be honored the way he should have been in the first place," Burgess says.

"He just deserved it. For what he had done!" Forehand adds.

And give Forehand the farewell he deserves.

Forehand's family encourages all veterans to get all the military funeral paperwork done in advance to assure that what happened to them doesn't happen to other veterans in a time of loss.

Senator Saxby Chambliss' office says "Families requesting the participation of the military to honor loved ones should ensure that the funeral director immediately initiates contact with the appropriate military branch of service.  Upon approval, the funeral director or family should re-confirm time and date of service with the military to ensure participation.  It is most important to give the military as much advance notice as possible so they are able to issue orders for uniformed military personnel to participate.  Members of Congress and U.S. Senator's offices are available to assist families if needed."

The Georgia Army National Guard also has a military honors office in Atlanta.