Academy Funeral Support
To make arrangements with the West Point Cemetery, either the family or the funeral director should contact:
West Point Cemetery Memorial Affairs Office
Memorial Affairs Office, Bldg. 329
West Point, NY 10996
The Memorial Affairs Office will assist the family in arranging a date for burial or inurnment; contact West Point Chapels for services; and contact military personnel responsible for the Band, Military Honors and Escorts.
Funeral Services Provided by USMA Memorial Affairs Officer:
1. Chapel service followed by a gravesite Committal Service or a Graveside Committal Service only according to family preference.
Chapel/Chaplain — If a Chaplain is requested, Memorial Affairs Office will contact the Chaplain’s office, indicate your desire, and reserve the Chapel. The Chaplains provide support for funerals as an extension of their support to the Corps of Cadets and always do so to the best of their abilities. However, as this is an additional duty, they may not be able to provide the same extended pastoral care as the family’s local clergy. The Chaplain or a member of his/her staff will contact you to discuss the service.
Music — An organist is requested by the Memorial Affairs Office for all Chapel Services. If the family desires a vocalist, it is recommended that you contact the Organist/Choirmaster directly at 845.938.7352. While the chaplain’s and organist’s services are provided without cost, there is a charge if you request a vocalist. If any audiovisual or recording equipment (CD player, etc.) is required, that also should be requested when the chaplain or staff member in the Chaplain’s office contacts you. The ability to provide such support is limited and it may be necessary to rent such equipment for your use at your cost. If a funeral is being held at some location other than West Point, we can provide sheet music for use at the service at no cost. Contact the Class Support Office at 800.232.4723, ext. 1538. CDs of the Glee Club singing traditional West Point songs also may be purchased at the WPAOG Gift Shop online. Once you are at the website, type in “CD” in the search box at the top right corner of the page.
Note: For Catholic funerals, family members should contact the Catholic Chapel Music Director at 845.938.3544. In keeping with liturgical requirements of the church, all music in the Most Holy Trinity Chapel must be live. The Catholic Chapel Music Director and Organist work very closely with families to provide the names of local vocalists.
2. For military members, funeral honors that are either full or modified:
a. Full Honors — firing party, the colors, detachment from USMA Band.
b. Modified Honors — firing party, the colors, bugler and drummer.
Flags — A flag will be provided to the next-of-kin at West Point funerals. If a memorial service is held away from West Point, or if the burial is at another non-military location, the funeral director should have the necessary information to assure that a flag is provided. Flags can be obtained at most Post Offices or Veterans’ Affairs Offices by providing a copy of the death certificate and the DD-214.
3. If services are held in the Chapel prior to being inurned in the columbarium, the gravesite Committal Service is held to the left of the Chapel at the Margaret Corbin site. Services are not held in the columbarium.
In addition to funeral honors for military members, representatives from the Association of Graduates and from the Superintendent’s office attend the service. The family is not responsible for coordinating these representatives.
Preparation & Transportation of the Remains
The family will be charged by their local funeral home for preparation of the remains (approximately $1,000). Caskets and alternative containers range in price from $100 to $18,000. The local funeral director also will charge professional fees for his services ($500 and upward, depending on the services required).
If the family wishes to have all services in the West Point area funeral home, it is possible to ship the remains directly to that home for preparation. There are West Point area funeral homes that offer special rates to USMA graduate families; please inquire when calling for prices. WPAOG can assist you with finding a local funeral homes, call 845.446.1614 for assistance. Expect an additional charge ($500 – $1,800) for transferring of the remains from the local funeral home to the airport. There are many other options available that need to be discussed with the funeral director.
The local funeral director should make the arrangements with the mortuary affairs office of the airline flying the casket to a West Point-area airport. The closest is Stewart International Airport, located approximately 20 miles from West Point in Newburgh, NY. Using a metropolitan airport, however, means a larger transportation fee to West Point. Funeral homes consider a local transfer to encompass only a 10- to 25-mile radius. Larger airports include Newark Airport, NJ, approximately 65 miles from West Point; LaGuardia Airport, in the New York metropolitan area, approximately 65 miles away; and Kennedy Airport, approximately 75 miles away, also in NYC.
A licensed funeral director must claim the remains from the airport and transport them back to either the funeral home or to West Point. There are many funeral homes in the vicinity of West Point that are willing to accommodate military families. Your local funeral director has a listing of all licensed funeral directors in the United States.
Fees vary greatly in the WP area for receiving remains from another funeral home. Other services included are: the transfer of remains to the funeral home, securing necessary authorizations, the services of the funeral director, and local transportation to the WP Cemetery. Fees range from $495 to $830. This area is unique because local funeral homes in the vicinity can be in any of four counties, all varying greatly in cost-of-living. This variance is reflected in the fees charged.
The WP Cemetery does not require a concrete vault for the casket. If the family wishes to have one, it is the responsibility of the WP-area funeral director to make the necessary arrangements.
If the family chooses to have the remains cremated and buried in the cemetery, there are no restrictions on size and type of urn. However, should they desire the cremains to be placed in the columbarium, they must make an advance purchase of a liner for the niche. When ordering the liner, please request that a nameplate be included. An 8" internal liner with cover currently costs $25 and can be ordered through:
Armento Liturgical Arts
P.O. Box 39
Buffalo, NY 14217-0039
The cremains do not need to be handled by a funeral director in the West Point area and can be transported either through the mail or hand-delivered by the family.
Be aware that funeral directors are required by the Federal Trade Commission to send a detailed price list of the maximum prices they charge for services to the family, if requested.
There is an enormous list of options and details for the family to consider. It is best for the family to have their local funeral director shop around for the best prices. It may be wise to consider now what price range you can afford. Do not force your loved ones to make what should be objective financial decisions at such an emotional time.
Following the funeral. In some instances, the family may arrange a reception following the funeral. There are many locations nearby that can accommodate them, including the Herbert Alumni Center, the Hotel Thayer, and the West Point Club. There also are many local restaurants available for small receptions.
Some points of contact for arranging receptions at West Point:
Herbert Alumni Center — Leslie Rose, 845.446.1582
Hotel Thayer — 845.446.4731, ask for sales department
West Point Club (formerly Officers Club) — 845.446.5545
WPAOG Support for burials at West Point
The majority of the information above is extracted directly from the USMA regulation. In addition to the information relating to reception locations and points of contact, the Office of the Director of Class Support takes specific actions, as follows:
a. Classmates living in the area are contacted and notified about the funeral.
b. A member of the WPAOG Executive Staff attends the burial of a graduate and presents a card of condolence to the widow/widower/next of kin.
c. Continued contact is maintained with the USMA Memorial Affairs Office.