The Coast Guard usually honors many of its fallen comrades with burials at sea. Usually, these burials go in the dozens. Still, Station Atlantic City’s at-sea burial of a World War II veteran won’t be soon forgotten.
On Sept. 29, Station Atlantic City fulfilled the final wishes of service veteran Andrew Haines, a New Jersey resident. Though Haines lived to a ripe old age of 89, he was fascinated about the ways he would be buried and spent more than a decade planning his own Norse-style send-off, reported Navy Times. Haines built a special funeral ship and wanted it to be ignited with a flare, when it was time for him to be cremated. Speaking about the beautiful gesture, Haines’ son Andy said.
“Oh, I was thrilled. I was thrilled when the Coast Guard called and told me we were doing it my way.”
Atlantic City was indeed a special place for Haines, because the World War II veteran finished his tour here. His son confirmed that Haines had been meticulously planning his funeral for years. Andrew Haines emigrated from Norway as a child in 1927, but managed to stay connected to his Scandinavian heritage throughout his life, reported Washington Times.
The funeral was indeed one of relatively epic proportions. About 10 years ago, Haines’ cousin in Norway sent him blueprints for a 100-foot wooden ship. Since making such a humungous boat wasn’t feasible, Haines painstakingly scaled it down to as small as two feet, as a miniature construction project, recalled Andy.
“When I came over to the house one day with the wife and one grandson, we were in the basement, and he’s got the whole bottom shell done with the deck, getting ready to put the rest of the stuff on.”
Over the years Haines built not one, but five different versions of the ship, before eventually setting on a 54-inch version that he lovingly set aside for his last journey. However, what’s even more remarkable is the fact that Haines constructed all these miniature and detailed boats with just a single hand. Haines lost an arm in a 1975 boating accident, which ended his career as a commercial fisherman for Atlantic City Fisheries, the family business.
Haines passed away of natural causes on Aug. 26. After his cremation, Andy filed paperwork with the Coast Guard to have his father buried at sea. Noting his heritage, the Coast Guard coordinated with Hanies’ family members and conducted an all-out at-sea memorial service, in which they gently let the boat into the boat and let it float away, before setting it alight.
Burials at sea aren’t uncommon and moreover, they are free to any military veteran. However, in Haines case, the Coast Guard went that extra mile to conduct a beautiful; Nordic style ceremony.
[Image Credit | Petty Officer 2nd Class Cynthia Oldham / Coast Gua, Comic Book Movie]