Thursday morning, the Marine Corps will bury one of its own.
Retired Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes wasn’t just any Marine, though. As a captain, he served as an operations officer for Combat Team 28, participating in the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima that resulted in nearly 7,000 U.S. combat deaths. In 1967, he served as the top operations officer of Marine forces in Vietnam.
Haynes died in March, and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery following a service at Arlington’s Fort Myer Old Post Chapel. The delay in his burial is likely the result of the time and resources it takes (think horse-drawn caisson) to bury someone with full military honors.
A copy of an informational brief about Haynes’ ceremony shows that good things come to those who wait. The ceremony will be a star-studded affair, with no fewer than three former commandants — retired Gens. Al Gray, Carl Mundy and James Jones — serving as honorary pall bearers. They will be joined by three members of the Haynes family, retired Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas (a Navy Cross recipient) and retired Col. Bill Rockey, a former battalion commander in Vietnam whose father, the late Maj. Gen. Keller Rockey, commanded Haynes’ division at Iwo Jima.
Other dignitaries expected to attend include Gen. James Mattis, the presumed next commander of U.S. Central Command, and Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. The eulogy will be delivered by retired Lt. Gen. Larry Snowden, who was a company commander during the assault on Iwo Jima.
For what it’s worth, Haynes co-authored a book, “The Lions of Iwo Jima,” that was released just last May. In a review, James Bradley, author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” said Haynes was the highest-ranking surviving officer from Combat Team 28.
Rest in peace, sir.