Racconti di Guerra

Folding the Flag

Un altro racconto di guerra; questa volta l’utente fullinversion82 scrive:

A properly folded US Flag should resemble the tricorn hat worn by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. If it's standard size and folded correctly it will take no less than 13 folds (aside from the two lengthwise folds) and the upper portion of the finished product should show 6 stars clearly and should show no red or white from the stripes.

I don't know if this is actual doctrine according to the Flag Code or not. I never actually checked. This is how I was taught to fold a flag when I was young by my grandfather who served in WWII. I figured he knew what he was talking about.

This is how I folded the Flag for the 23 veterans for whom I performed funeral honors. This story is about the 23rd funeral honors detail that I was privileged to be a part of.*

I started 'writing' this story over a month ago after I read this:

I don’t know what those guys who have the duty to hand the folded flag to widows at military funerals think while they’re doing it. It’s a good thing they have a script. Because I bet, if left to wing it, they would say something very like what I just wrote.

{Excerpted from Letters from Peggy written by u/AnathemaMaranatha}

Hang tight, because I'm gonna tell ya, buddy.

When I got to Ft. Bragg, I was sent to a brigade in the 82nd that had just deployed. So I showed up to a “Rear D” unit full of broke-dicks and pregnant chicks and guys that were getting out for one reason or another as well as a couple guys that were just deploying late because of family issues or training or what-have-you.

In the few weeks I was there, Jack, a guy that quickly became a really good friend of mine helped me (along with the guy who ended up being my squad leader who was also rear d at the time) get my Class A's and finances etc.. set up and get me squared away so that I could deploy.

During this time, a tasking came down from brigade that we needed to supply a funeral honors detail.


None of the broke-dicks could do it and the preggos didn't fit in their A's, so it ended up being myself, my buddy Jack, my squad leader and a few randos from the other companies.

Everybody wanted to be on the gun team or playing the fake bugle with a speaker in it so it ended up being me and my SL that folded the flag. Which was fine with me because:

  1. I knew how.


  1. I was never able to get in sync with everybody on the gun-line anyhow.

Fast forward (sorry u/PickleInDaButt) to when we got back from that deployment.

I volunteered for the battalion funeral honors detail. After awhile, I was kinda in charge of training newer members in how everything went. I got a government travel card in order to be able to go to funerals outside the radius. (I shoulda never used the damn thing because a charge that was incurred right before my second deployment was overlooked by s4 and destroyed my credit for a little while.)

Fast forward again to where I'm getting out of the Army. I'm going through ACAP which is an acronym that I can't remember what it stands for but it's basically classes on how to be a civilian and it's terrible. The only redeeming quality is that it gets you outta fucking everything if you play your cards right and your leadership is cool. I played my cards right and I had the best damn squad leader the Army ever saw. I didn't even go to PT for the last 6 months I was in. I didn't see anybody except my squad leader once or twice a week. He'd stop by my barracks room to check on me and see how I was doing.

So it was no surprise when he stopped by on a Thursday night and knocked on my door. What he had to say, I wasn't expecting, though.

“They found Jack's body in (big city I'm not gonna name)”

See, my buddy Jack had ETS'd about 8 months earlier and gone to work for Dynacorp. He'd gone straight back to Afghanistan and worked at some motor pool on Kandahar Airfield. While home on R&R (or whatever contractors call it) he had somehow ended up getting shot and killed behind a bar in a big city near where he lived.

Everybody in the platoon that knew him took a four day to attend his funeral. Some E-6 that had never met him tried to weasel outta duty for the weekend by volunteering to be NCOIC for the detail. I shut that shit down fucking quick.

We all showed up in our dress uniforms and he had a military burial with full honors. I made sure that the guy on the other end of the flag knew exactly what he was doing. We practiced folding that flag until he probably wanted to shoot me. But it was perfect when he made that final fold and tuck at the funeral.

I inspected it fastidiously. Made sure it was perfect. Six stars clearly presented on top. No red showing. No white showing save the stars on the field of the flag.

Hand salute. Right face. Took three steps and dropped to one knee to present it to his widow. His 3 year old little boy sitting next to her not sure what's going on and wondering why Inversion is here but his daddy isn't.

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service”

I'd said the same line probably 15 times before at other funerals and at least 150 times in my hotel room the night before.

The words sounded hollow. Meaningless. It said nothing about how terrible I felt for her. For her son. It didn't mention a damn thing about how she was supposed to cope with this or explain to her three year old that daddy isn't coming home.

I broke.

Twenty-two times prior to this and my eyes might've watered a little when they played Taps. Nothing more than that.

A soldier in that position is not supposed to show emotion. None.

“Set your jaw and look at the loved one's eyebrows. Never look them directly in the eye. Concentrate on your line and your military bearing. Make yourself not care.”

Advice I gave my brother when he told me he had gotten a tasking for funeral honors.

I had learned this and I knew this. It didn't matter.

As I marched out with the rest of the detail, tears were free-flowing down my face. I don't know how to end this story, so I'll just end it here.

One thing I'll add:

To anybody that's currently serving, if you get tasked for funeral honors detail, remember. It's not about you and how you get to fuck off the night before. It's important. It's the final send off of a buddy. It's telling their wife or mother that their brotherhood is there for them. Make sure you do that part right.