On September 29th the Coast Guard honored the last request of an 89-year-old WWII veteran from New Jersey, and gave him a glorious Norse funeral that would make Odin himself proud.
There are many stages of the Norse/Viking Funeral, but essentially it is based upon the warrior being cremated in a glorious boat, and the boat being lit by a flaming arrow shot from a fellow warrior. Given that it’s 2014 and the US Coast Guard were the ones carrying out this task, New Jersey native and WWII vet Andrew Haines’ ritual was slightly altered, but was certainly still other worldy.
On Sept. 29, Station Atlantic City fulfilled the final wishes of service veteran Andrew Haines, a New Jersey resident who died in late August at age 89. Haines spent more than a decade planning his own Norse-style send-off, even building a funeral ship to carry his cremated ashes and then be burned.
“Oh, I was thrilled,” Haines’ son Andy told Navy Times. “I was thrilled when the Coast Guard called and told me we were doing it my way.”
Haines said his father, a World War II veteran who finished his tour at Atlantic City, had been planning his funeral for years.
Andrew Haines emigrated from Norway as a child in 1927 and had stayed connected to his Scandinavian heritage throughout his life. About 10 years ago, Andy said, Haines’ cousin in Norway sent him blueprints for a 100-foot wooden ship, and he got to work, scaling it down to wo feet.
“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,” Andy recalled.
Then Andy had an idea. He asked his father if he still wanted to be cremated, and he said he did.
“So I said, ‘How about if we try to make a Viking funeral out of this for you?'” he recalled.
Haines built five versions of the ship, his son said, settling on a 54-inch version for the ceremony.
More remarkable, Haines built the boats one-handed. He lost an arm in a 1975 boating accident, which ended his career as a commercial fisherman for Atlantic City Fisheries, the family business.
The veteran and retired commercial fisherman, who emigrated from Norway in 1927, died in late August of natural causes, but not before spending a decade constructing a scaled-down replica of a Viking ship that would carry his memory.
He managed to build the longship with only one arm after losing the other in a 1975 boating accident.
The Coast Guard with Station Atlantic City kept the Norse tradition alive with a flare to ignite the boat carrying his ashes and wood shavings during its Sept. 29 launch about three miles off the coast, the Navy Times reported.
Even though it took nearly a half hour for the 54-inch boat to sink after being set aflame, the ceremony was perfect for Haines’ family, who said goodbye from ashore.
So there you have it: the US Government (and Coast Guard) taking care of their own, and honoring the last requests of a fallen vet, and in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. I can find no fault in this story whatsoever, and it’s rare that happens in life. No bullshit, just doing what needs to be done in order to properly honor a serviceman.
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