Shortly following World War I, the United States Government granted all Honorably Discharged Veterans the right to receive Full Military Honors upon their death. This dedicated group of local Marines has been voluntarily conducting final honor ceremonies throughout King County for the past 29 years.
In 1986, the Leatherneck Honor Guard was originally formed as an independent detail (not affiliated with the Marine Corps League) with its own unique uniformed designed by its first Commander John DesJarlais. In September 2017, the Leatherneck Honor Guard disbanded as an independent detail and concurrently reformed as a program of the Marine Corps League Puget Sound Detachment 336 and adopted the MCL Uniform regulations.
The members of the Honor Guard earned the right to execute military honors in such places as Iwo Jima, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of combat.
The short honor ceremony includes appropriate readings, three rifle volleys, playing of taps, folding and presentation of the flag. This significant acknowledgement of the deceased’s service to their country is available for the family of all former Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, or Coast Guard members.
PRACTICE OF FIRING THREE RIFLE VOLLEYS
This practice originated as a custom of halting the fighting during a battle, so the dead could be moved from the battlefield. Once each Army cleared the dead and buried their solders, they would fire three volleys of rifle fire over the graves to indicate that the dead had been cared for and they were ready to go back to the fight.
THE PLAYING OF TAPS
Taps is an American Bugle call, composed by the Union Army’s Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield while in camp at Harrison’s Landing Virginia, in 1862. Butterfield wrote the call to replace the earlier “Tattoo” (lights out), which he thought too formal. The call soon became known as “Taps” because it was often tapped out on a drum in the absence of a bugler.
The Flag will be folded into a triangular shape with only the blue field with stars showing. The shape of the flag when completely folded takes on the appearance of a Cocked Hat, reminding us of the hats worn by the soldiers, sailors and marines that served under General George Washington and Captain John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. These men fought to preserve for us the Rights, Privileges and Freedoms that we all enjoy.
The Puget Sound Leatherneck Honor Guard has participated in numerous patriotic events over the past 29 years, such as Memorial Day services and Veterans Day remembrances; lead the Seattle "Santa Claus Parade" for ten years; participated in the Grand Reunion of the Medal of Honor Recipient Ceremonies in Portland, Oregon; and participated in the Joint Patriotic Parade in Canada with the Royal Mounted Police.
Today, the Primary mission of the Puget Sound Leatherneck Honor Guard is to provide military honors for veterans from all branches of service at their memorial services held at the Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent Washington once per month. All ceremonies are provided in a manner that maintains military traditions and demonstrates pride for the United States of America, the Marine Corps, our uniform and veterans past and present.
The Military Honors ceremonies are conducted so that the veterans’ families and friends will recognize the appreciation that a grateful nation has for the sacrifices made by their loved ones, for our flag and country.
The Leatherneck Honor Guard continues the tradition of participating in patriotic events such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
Puget Sound Leatherneck Honor Guard candidates must be honorably discharged United States Marines Veterans or Navy FMF Corpsmen, and be a member in good standing of the Marine Corps League. Qualified individuals are invited join the Leatherneck Honor Guard. Interested Marines and FMF Corpsmen are encouraged to call, Larry Alcantara, Leatherneck Honor Guard Commander at 206-380-7191.