Navy Seals return departed comrades to the sea

Navy SEALS wade out to sea to scatter the remains of departed comrades.

Navy SEALs know how to perform their missions right, and that includes the solemn mission of honoring their departed comrades. Every year, the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum at Fort Pierce, Florida, hosts a ceremony to honor the Frogmen who have passed the bar and 2018 marked its 33rd Annual Muster, which was held from 2-4 November, a weekend to remember for many of us.

Friday, November 2nd, was a leisurely day, taken up with a happy hour with the SEALs, and food, a shrimp boil or BBQ. (SEALs like to eat, I hear, and enjoy a few beers while they do.)

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, Leap Frogs, performed to the awe of those who watched from the ground and the SEALs presented a canine tactical demonstration, showing how important man’s best friend is to military operations. They also showed what they might do on a mission, complete with “bad guys” who “kidnapped” two young ladies from the audience. The “good guy” SEALs rappelled from a helicopter and rescued the damsels in distress, after first wiping out the bad guys.

After that, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Thornton USN (Ret), gave a tough speech to the crowd, followed by Congressman Brian Mast, USA, who suffered the loss of both legs and a finger during action in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Medal of Honor recipient Master Chief Britt Slabinski, USN (Ret), was also present and that afternoon the Navy SEAL Museum held a Medal of Honor Ceremony at the museum’s entrance to unveil Britt Slabinski’s name on the monument there.

Sunday was a day of mourning and 14 fallen comrades were honored during the sunrise memorial service. One by one, each name was called, a flag was presented to each next of kin, and then the ashes of the departed comrade were passed to a SEAL swimmer, who would then release them into the sea.

The next-of-kin receives a plaque with the history of their loved ones. This plaque for Alfred Spinks was presented to his widow.

Four of us were privileged to attend the memorial for our buddy Lt. Commander Alfred Spinks USN (Ret) who enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1943 at age 14. We were honored to support his widow and family during the touching ceremony. U.S. Navy SEALs carried Al’s ashes, along with those of his fallen comrades, out into the ocean and released them underwater. Al returned to the waters where he served most of his adult life.

Rest your oars, Sailor. Someone else has the helm now.