Military funerals see cutbacks with personnel

Military funerals see cutbacks with personnel
Military budget cuts have led to smaller funeral services at Keesler Air Force Base. (Photo Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Due to military budget cuts, funeral services at Keesler Air Force Base will not have the same ceremonial flare as years past. 

Melody Wiltz and her sister recently buried their father, the late Air Force Lt. Col. John Murphy, who recently passed away at 97 years old. Murphy served in the Air Force for 33 years, including time as a bombardier with B-17's in World War II.

"We want to honor his memory," said Burkes. "He's the most amazing hero in our lives."

Murphy was laid to rest on Monday at the Biloxi National Cemetery with some military honors, but not what they expected or what they hoped for, due to budget cuts and a lack of available personnel.

Instead of a larger group from Keesler, it was a two-person crew.

"They come out and do the flag ceremony and it was beautiful and certainly moving," Burkes said. "We love all the military celebrations and pomp and circumstance. We grew up with that and those traditions mean a lot."

"In the past, the honor guard consisted of five to seven people with a rifle squad," said Sr. Airman Travis Biehl with Keesler Air Force Base. "Now, with the new mandate, that number is down to two with no rifle squad."

Biehl added that he at one time served on a funeral honor guard and understands how important it is to veterans and retirees. He says the base will serve if they're able to.

At the Murphy funeral on Monday, help came in the from members of the VFW and the Patriot Guard.

"It was beautiful, and I know my dad would've loved to see the Patriot Guard and VFW," Burkes added. "But certainly, we were disappointed that there have been so many changes to what he believed was going to be his service."

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