By J.D. LeipoldAugust 15, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 15, 2014) -- Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the senior-most U.S. military officer to have been killed in a combat zone since the Vietnam War, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, yesterday.
Following the general's funeral service and eulogies by his wife, son, daughter and father at the Memorial Chapel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, just outside the stone walls surrounding the cemetery, full military honors were rendered by The Old Guard Soldiers, who protect its grounds.
Greene's flag-draped casket was gently lifted, then carried by eight Soldiers through the chapel doors to the awaiting caisson, led by seven sleek horses and followed by two more, of which one was saddled and ready, but riderless.
The funeral procession began its steady march of hooves, wheels and shoes, the only sounds on the asphalt except for the occasional tune by the Army Band "Pershing's Own." Behind the riderless horse walked the Greene family, and then behind them were the hundreds of others who came to give the general their goodbyes. Besides Soldiers in their dress uniforms, there were enlisted and officer uniforms present from all of the other services.
They plodded on, winding through the hills and flats of giant oaks and maples, where inscriptions on gleaming white marble slabs mark the final resting spots of thousands of America's military men and women going back to the Civil War.
Finally the procession arrived at section 60. This area of the sprawling 624 acres of Arlington is the final home for many Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen who didn't return alive from Iraq or Afghanistan to be with their families. This is where the general would rest too.
As his casket was removed from the caisson and carried to the grave, all in uniform held their salutes. Prayers were said, tears run, a 13-cannon salute boomed and the firing party cracked off three rifle volleys and a mournful bugle sounds of "Taps."
The casket team methodically and in perfect form removed the flag, then began the folding until it was in the shape of a white-starred blue triangle. It was passed to The Old Guard's commander who turned sharply and presented it to the Army's chief of staff.
He knelt and gently pressed the flag into the hands of Greene's widow, offering words of comfort. He moved to Greene's son, then daughter, and finally to the lost general's father softly speaking, passing each an American flag.
In their final moments with the Soldier, the leader, the family man -- husband to Susan, father to Matthew and Amelia and son to Harold -- each stepped forward, placed a red rose on the casket and whispers of goodbye could be discerned.