Have you ever met a member or Veteran of the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard?
Not many people can recall a friend or relative that has served the United States in such a unit. That’s because they’re rare! Most people don’t even know that they exist or what they do that makes them so rare. However, many people have seen movies or viewed ROTC Drill Teams that perform a small percentage of the duties of a CNIC member. For many a veteran and non veteran alike, it’s hard to imagine a sailor that would dedicate 2 or more years of their life to such a highly specialized team of professional men and women. Here is a link to the CNIC webpage so you can take a quick look at whom my subject matter below is tied to: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/ndw/about/ceremonial_guard.html
Now for the rest of the story: Yeoman Second Class “P****” (YN2 = E5)
YN2 Michael S. P**** served 2 years in the service of the Ceremonial Guard in Washington D.C. (1973-1977) After his 2 years of spit shining shoes, impeccable uniform preparation, marching and standing at attention for hours on end in funerals and performances for visiting “Heads of State”, he was assigned (for 2 years) as a Yeoman for the DOD at the Pentagon. YN2 P**** did his entire tour of duty in D.C. and was Honorably Discharged from the United States Navy.
P**** originally joined the Navy fresh out of high school in 1973, with the intention of joining in service with his brother. The problem with this idea was that his brother was serving in Vietnam and the Navy would not allow two brothers to serve on the same ship in a combat zone. Being an excellent and “squared away” sailor with a rare disciplined integrity and work ethic that he possessed, P**** was “given the opportunity” to apply for membership in the Ceremonial Guard, while still in boot camp.
After boot camp in Great Lakes, IL, P**** was transferred to Washington D.C. to begin training and service in the Naval Ceremonial Guard. The first stop he made after boot camp was back home in Winston-Salem, NC where he married his high school sweetheart before arriving for duty in D.C. with his wife. As of this moment, he has been married to her for 40 years.
Today, his wife and family are watching him deteriorate in Late Stage-4 COPD, while the Veterans Administration promises to make appointments for him with the Pulmonary Department – that are often months away from when he needs them. His breathing is so shallow and belabored that he has often had to report to the emergency room in a civilian hospital because the ER for Veterans is 45 miles away in Salisbury NC. When a man can’t breathe, he doesn’t have the ability to drive for an hour to get to an emergency room. He gets treated at the civilian facility and billed for it, while the VA fights with him about who is going to pay the bill.
It was truly a sad testament to the treatment of our Veterans, the day he stated that his primary physician had said to him, “What do you want me to do, you’re dying”.
I suppose the most ironic situation in this Veterans Administration horror story is that while YN2 P****, spent his entire military service paying homage to and burying veterans in Arlington National Cemetery, the VA is now sitting idly by and watching him die. He spent his military career burying our bravest and our nations dignitary’s while marching and standing at attention in our nations most revered graveyard. All too soon, he will be with them again. All he ever asked for was a well earned appointment and to be treated for his ailment in a timely manner.
Due to his own humility and the fact that he never thought about or expected any form of special treatment, he will probably be upset that I used him as a way of speaking out against the Veterans Administration inability to keep their word to all Veterans.
I can’t excuse my use of his situation for this story – I am angry, and I love my brother.
July 2, 2014
Established in 1931, the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the Navy. Located at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, DC, the Navy Ceremonial Guard’s primary mission is to represent the service in Presidential, Joint Armed Forces, Navy, and public ceremonies in and around the nation’s capital.
Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard participate in some of our nation’s most prestigious ceremonies, including Presidential inaugurations and arrival ceremonies for foreign officials. In addition, the Navy Ceremonial Guard serves as the funeral escort and conducts all services for Navy personnel buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Navy Ceremonial Guard Sailors participate in numerous other military ceremonies at local commands. Some elements of the command, such as the Drill Team and Color Guard, have represented the Navy in public events across the nation and around the world.