Arlington National Cemetery Funeral of Col. Eugene B. Sisk, USAF, Retired,
and his beloved wife, Elizabeth A. Sisk

text by Linden B. (Lindy) Sisk
Photographs by Linden B. Sisk and Sidney S. Millspaugh IV
© 2012 All Rights Reserved

Elizabeth A. (Betty) Sisk, wife of Col. Eugene B. Sisk, USAF, Retired, passed away in the year 2000. Her remains were cremated, and interred in the cemetery at Fort Sam Houston. On May 6th of 2012, Col. Sisk passed away. Details of his life may be found here.

His remains were cremated. It was his wish to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery. The remains of his wife were disinterred and united with those of her husband. On a beautiful fall day on September 20th, 2012, family and friends gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for the ceremony to bury their remains.

Arlington National Cemetery is an awesome place. With more than 400,000 grave sites in over 600 acres, it is a visible sign of the respect paid by the United States to its veterans and other notables.

The party gathered at the visitor center, and the remains were transferred to the automobile of the Arlington representative, Ms. Christine Wright. With that automobile leading the procession, the party drove to a transfer point, where the remains were transferred to a horse-drawn artillery caisson.

Standing by nearby were an honor detail composed of a 17-person band, a 4-person color guard, and a 15-rifleman honor guard.

The caisson, preceeded by the honor detail, and followed by the family and friends of the funeral party, proceeded to the vicinity of the grave site.

During the procession, four Air Force F16 Fighting Falcon fighters flew over the procession in a "Missing Man" formation, in which one jet lights its afterburner, and climbs straight up to honor the fallen.

The honor detail marched to the grave site.

The remains were transferred to a covered area, and placed on a pedestal. Family members were seated.

Members of the honor guard folded the flag over the remains.

Present during the folding was a personal representative of the Secretary of the Air Force, standing center below.

Following the folding of the flag, it was presented by the Sergeant in charge of the detail to Lindy Sisk, son and oldest child of Col. and Mrs. Sisk. Then the funeral party proceeded to the grave site. The band played appropriate music during the folding, and the procession to the grave site.

Lindy read the citations of Col. Sisk's two Legions of Merit, one of only two medals which are issued on a ribbon to be worn around the neck, the other being the Medal of Honor. A few other tributes were paid to the couple.

That concluded the ceremony at Arlington. Permanent headstones for Gene and Betty of white marble like those which can be seen on other graves will be erected in a few months - with so many funerals per day, the company which makes those is running behind.

Family and friends repaired to Normandie Farm Restaurant, owned by family friend Cary Prokos, for cocktails and an early dinner. After that splendid repast, those remaining in Washington moved to the Round Robin Bar at the historic Willard Hotel, where the celebration of the lives of Gene and Betty Sisk continued into the night.

The generation which Gene and Betty belonged to is fast disappearing. One estimate is that 850 veterans of World War II pass away every day. There are many national cemeteries, but Arlington alone averages 30 funerals per day. The contributions of that generation are immense, and it would seem appropriate for those who remain to recall them, and celebrate the freedoms which others have paid for.

Someone noted that a military veteran is a person who once wrote a check payable to the United States of America, payable for "Any amount, up to and including my life."

Many of those who wrote those checks are at rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Should you be in the area, you might wish to stop by to pay your respects.

What follows is the Requiescat of the United States Marine Corps. Written by a Marine infantry company commander, it was carved on a piece of wood, and placed over the entrance to the Marine cemetery on the island of Peleliu, a site of fierce fighting during WWII. It applies to all who served, irrespective of their branch of service, and have passed away.

To you, now lying within this foreign land,
We, who remain, pay tribute of a pledge:
That dying, thou shalt surely not have died in vain.
That when again bright morning dyes the sky
And waving boughs above shall touch the rain,
We give you this -- that in those times
We shall remember.
We lived and fought together, thou and we,
And sought to keep the flickering torch aglow
That all our loved ones might forever know
That blessed warmth exceeding flame,
The everlasting scourge of bondsmen's chains,
Liberty and light.
When we with loving hands laid back the earth
That was for moments short to couch thy form,
We did not bid a last and sad farewell,
But only, "Rest ye well."
Then, with this humble, heartfelt epitaph
That pays thy many virtues sad acclaim
We marked this spot, and murmuring requiem,
Moved on to Westward.
© 2012 by Linden B. (Lindy) Sisk
All Rights Reserved