Fellow Marines I have a story to tell.
It’s called: “FULL MILITARY HONORS”
By Colonel George Braun, USMCR-Ret
No one encounters Arlington National Cemetery without being engulfed in the history of our country and the realization that freedom is not free. Its cost is priceless and we alive… are the much vested beneficiaries.
On June 5th, 2006, 62 years, less one day, after the invasion of Normandy, World War II, Major General Jack M. Frisbie, a United States Marine, was interned at Arlington National Cemetery, with his formerly deceased and beloved wife Shirley in one appropriate casket. She had been exhumed from her grave in Waukegan, Illinois and shipped to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to fulfill the General’s final will, by Tim Frisbie, his youngest son.
Major General Frisbie had been confined to a rest home, having been overcome with Alzheimer’s disease for the previous ten or so years. He was literally out of touch with the patriotic intensity and dedication that comprised most of his adult life, enduring wars and pursuing dual careers in finance, the Marine Corps reserve, while raising a family.
A small, but not insignificant, gathering of mourners assembled in the Arlington National Cemetery administration building at 0830 that day, and became quickly acquainted with Cindy, his oldest daughter; Tim, one of his two sons; and the three grand-children of two Frisbie daughters.
Attending were a few civilian business friends and respectful representatives of General Frisbie’s distinguished military career. His military service included WW-II (Pacific), as an enlisted Marine, and later as a reserve Marine, mobilized to serve in Korea. He became a 2nd Lieutenant via the meritorious NCO program in 1949.
Highly decorated from combat experience in two wars, he was promoted appropriately as he dedicated the rest of his Marine Corps career interfacing with Commandants to lead and craft the Marine Corps Reserve into a state of well-equipped and trained readiness, unlike the Korean war USMCR mobilization experience. He had set the standards for unit performance and effective officer leadership as President of the Marine Corps Reserve Officer Association (MCROA), and a former C.O. of 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th MARDIV, headquartered in Chicago.
Major General Dean Sangalis, USMC, (ret) also a decorated WW-II and Korea veteran, and I had previously collaborated on meeting up at the Sheraton National Hotel near the old Pentagon Navy Annex the day before the internment. We, too, had also commanded 2nd Battalion, after Jack and were in the 15th Staff Group under him afterwards, which became HQ Det-4.
I had previously flown into Washington Reagan many times as a Captain for United airlines, but had not for several years. Looking out the window on the circling approach I saw the Pentagon from the air and it brought back memories of the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Innocent people, some contemporaries of mine, were wasted by uncivilized, religiously misguided, conspiring, amoral human criminals. They were purposely trained in America at its flight schools, and were certified as commercial pilots to gain access; using cockpit travel privileges, to hijack the airliners by surprising and slashing the throats of the pilots with box cutters concealed in their flight bags allowed in the cockpit. They then navigated those winged cocoons to crash into buildings in New York and the Pentagon for the world to see and to attempt to understand.
After landing and a short taxi ride to the hotel, the clerk ironically handed me a key folder with the room number 911 written on it. Our eyes met acknowledging the significance of the coincidence. Much world changing history had been recorded with American blood and resolve since that date. General Jack’s Alzheimer’s had spared him from that experience.
We followed the hearse that following morning to high terrain at Arlington National Cemetery where the road split going around a statue in a field surrounded by mature trees. A Marine Corps Band element and two rifle platoons from Marine Barracks, 8th and “I”, formed on the right fork in parade dress uniforms, their respective red and blue tunics occasionally illuminated by the morning sun randomly bursting through the clouds.
On the left fork we observed the U.S. Army caisson, a partially enclosed wood wagon with buckboard-like wooden wheels hitched to six white horses. Four of them were saddled with US Army riders in their dress uniforms and were awaiting the receipt of the flag draped casket. The casket was soon to be transferred from the hearse by six large, strong, Marine Corps pallbearers in Dress Blue uniforms, highly polished black shoes and white quadrifoiled covers. The pallbearers carefully transferred the casket containing Jack and Shirley’s remains to the caisson with a perfect 5-step synchronous turning maneuver.
A cannon was fired in the distance and the procession, lead by the band element drumming cadence, embarked on the 10-minute trek to the grave site. A saddled, but rider-less black horse followed the caisson, A red flag with two embroidered stars and black streamer was paraded by a lone Marine in Dress Blues. At equal intervals the cannon was fired in the distance 12 times more during the march to the grave site.
At the grave site family and friends assembled to hear a short eulogy expressed by a Navy Chaplain of Captain rank, as part of the burial ceremony.
The pallbearers retrieved the casket from the caisson and carried it to the grave site, but before placing it on the supports spanning the dug-out, they lifted it high over their heads in a gesture of posthumous loyalty. Three volleys from seven riflemen were fired on command, sounding like it came from one Marine…one rifle.
The American flag, taken from the top of the casket, was meticulously folded. Each fold was ceremoniously creased, cupped, and pressed by the white leather gloves of the pallbearers. After inspection the flag was presented to Major General David Bice, Inspector General of the Marine Corps, the active duty representative for the Commandant, General Carl Mundy. With lingering ceremonial slowness depicting the sadness of the occasion, he saluted the flag and the spirit of Major General Jack and Shirley Frisbie.
Exuding unmistakable sincerity and capturing the attention of Cindy’s teen-aged children, Dylan and Aubrey, Major General Bice presented the flag to Tim, (seated) saying softly, “From the President of the United States, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and on behalf of a grateful nation, this flag is presented to you as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one.”
Major General Jack M. Frisbie - Deceased
General Frisbie enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. He participated in combat operations in the south and central Pacific Theater during the 30 months he served overseas. Commissioned a second lieuten-ant in November 1949, via the meritorious Non-Commissioned Officers Program, General Frisbie was called to active duty August 1950, and served one year in Korea with the First Marine Division. He was promoted to first lieutenant in November 1951 and released from active duty in September 1952. He joined the Orgaized Marine Corps Reserve and is one of the very few Marine officers to ever command both ground and aviation units. He was promoted to captain in July l953.
In 1957, as Commanding Officer of the 43rd Infantry Company, General Frisbie's unit was awarded the General William Clement Award as outstanding infantry company in the Organized Marine Corps Reserve. In 1965, as Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, his unit was cited as the nation's largest and best trained infantry battalion. He was promoted to major in March 1960, and to lieutenant colonel in September 1965.
General Frisbee served as Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Glenview, Illinois, from 1967 to 1969. The Reserve Officers Association named his unit the outstanding combat support squadron of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in l969. He was promoted to colonel in July 1970, and served as Commanding Officer, 15th Staff Group, USMCR, Chicago, Illinois, prior to being assigned as Commanding Officer, Volunteer Training Unit 9-2, also in Chicago. During MAULEX 1-73, he served as Commanding Officer of the 52d Marine Amphibious Unit. In April 1975 he was reassigned as Assistant Division Commander, 4th Marine Division. He was advanced to brigadier general on June 3, 1975. In April 1976, he became Commanding General, 4th Force Service Support Group, 4th Marine Division and set a precedent of becoming the first reserve general in the Marine Corps to take command of a major Marine Corps unit in peace time. He was promoted to major general on April 1, 1978 and assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations and Logistics. On April 15, 1981, General Frisbie was reassigend as Deputy Chief of Staff for Reserve Affairs (Mobilization Designee). He served in this capacity until his retirement on Sept 1, 1984.
General Frisbee was elected National President of the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association in May 1973. In June 1979, he was elected Chairman of the Board. He is a past vice president of the Navy League and he served a three-year tour as a member of the Marine Corps Reserve Policy Board. In October 1978, the Secretary of the Navy appointed him President of the Policy Board.
On May 12, 1980, the Secretary of Defense appointed Generai Frisbie to a three-year term as a member of the Armed Forces Policy Board. The Secretary of the Navy, on March 1, 1983, appointed General Frisbie President of the Marine Corps Reserve Policy Board for the second time.
The Illinois Junior Chamber of Commerce presented General Frisbie their Distinguished Service Award as Young Man of the Year 1960, in recognition of his community work and leadership in civic affairs. Following his career in the Marine Corps, General Frisbee served as an investment banker and served on several Boards of Directors as an advisor/consultant.
Major General Frisbee passed away on 3 May 2006.