Lt. James F. Popkowski served his country with honor and thus deserved an honor guard at his funeral, the U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who sent an honor guard to Popkowski’s funeral said Tuesday.
Gunnery Sgt. Michael Crane reviewed Popkowski’s military service record and all the information he could find on the circumstances surrounding Popkowski’s death before making his determination, Crane said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Va.
“If a veteran gets honorably discharged, or discharged under honorable conditions, that is usually good enough,” Crane said.
Any U.S. servicemen or women who served honorably, no matter for how long or at what rank, can get a funeral honor guard if their family or the funeral home handling the memorial services makes a request and can show appropriate discharge forms.
In most cases, that’s a DD Form 214, or Report of Separation, according to Crane and the National Archives Website, archives.gov.
Only involvement in, or conviction of, a serious crime, such as homicide or robbery, would be enough for a reviewing officer such as Crane to revoke a request, he said. For example, someone who shot and killed several people before getting killed would not get an honor guard.
Popkowski was honorably discharged due to a medical condition, a rare form of cancer, in 2003.