Last Friday, Larry and I made a 3.5 hour ride to Little Rock, Arkansas for the Saturday burial of a US Navy Captain who was the last skipper of the USS Razorback submarine. His services were held on the barge adjoining the submarine, which is now the property of the State of Arkansas. (The Razorback is the mascot of our university, although this Razorback is actually a variety of whale, not hog!) Following the ceremony, his ashes were taken aboard the sub by his wife and entrusted to the Arkansas River. It was a very emotional ceremony and one I'll not forget.
We stopped for a picnic along the Buffalo River on our way to Little Rock, with a 3x5 American flag attached to our trailer hitch. It bears the name of the “Patriot Guard Riders”, a group that stands the flagline at military funerals and protects the sovereignty of the event. I'm always so proud to ride behind of my own US Vietnam veteran.
Forming the bike line above the Arkansas River at the marine museum
Our trike and flag in front of the black conning tower of the USS Razorback
The site of the funeral with the Little Rock skyline behind it
The services began with us carrying the flags onto the barge, where we stood for the entire funeral service. (Naturally, I had a camera around my neck - and took all of these one-handed while holding a huge flag upright in my left hand!)
The flag line reflected in the muddy waters of the river
Standing for the “Pledge of Allegiance”
This sweet old Marine was playing the Navy Hymn, “Anchors Aweigh”
A portrait of Captain Talbert, the last skipper of the “Razorback”. It served during WWII and Vietnam, with many of its missions still classified! After serving in the US Navy for 30 years, then was sold to Turkey where it served another 30 years, before Arkansas bought it and brought it home! The woman in the bottom right is Mrs. Talbert, the widow.
One of Captain Talbert's oldest and dearest friends, Retired Admiral James Hogg gave the eulogy. They had been friends since the Naval Academy in 1956 and lived beside each other until Talbert's death in Coronado, California
Many of these men served on the “Razorback” under Captain Talbert and came to show their respects.
A ship's captain is often referred to by the name of his ship - so Talbert was called “Razorback”. The sub's bell was rung one time in honor of Captain Talbert and it was announced: “Razorback Departing”. That's when I broke into tears.
All the military saluted as “Taps” was played and his ashes were put into the river.
Mrs. Talbert with one of their 5 grandchildren receives the honorary salute by the “Side Boys”
The American and Arkansas flags flying in front of the President Bill Clinton Library, located just down the river from where we stood
We stopped at the same little park for a break on the way home.
On the way down to the services and on the way back home, many cars and trucks along the road either honked, saluted, waved, or gave us a “thumbs up” for making the ride to honor a dead hero. We felt very unworthy of their attention.