Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Norwegian-American WWII vet gets Viking funeral

On September 29th, 2014, WWII veteran and Norwegian immigrant Andrew Haines made his farewell journey in true Viking fashion. USA Today reports:
“[Coast Guard] 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.”
Haines had built his 54-inch ship based off of blueprints from Norway, sent by a cousin. The original plans were for a 100 foot long ship, however; Haines worked at scaling the plans down, and eventually created the replica that took him on his final journey.

All of this was done, it should be noted, with one hand: Haines had lost his other arm in an accident in 1975.

Andrew Haines’ Viking funeral 

Andrew Haines was born in Norway, but emigrated to the United States in 1927. He was a child at the time. He then went on to serve in WWII.

Burials at sea are free to military veterans, but notes Atlantic City’s operation officer, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Christopher Fonseca, “Scattering ashes and flowers is pretty much the norm.” Despite the funeral request being unusual, the Coast Guard worked with Haines’ family to accommodate his last wishes.

And on the 29th, “three miles off the coast…” the Coast Guard “brought the miniature Viking ship down to a recess in their boat, lit the wood shavings inside on fire with a flare and sent it out to sea.

It took about 20 minutes to burn, he said. The family said some last words, and one crew member read a nautically themed Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, Crossing the Bar.”

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