Ceremony Page

The Military Honors that the Leatherneck Honor Guard perform may include all or part of the following:

Rifle Salute
Playing of Taps
Folding of the Flag
Presentation of the Flag

Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard Members

Shortly following World War I, the United States Government granted all Honorably Discharged Veterans the right to receive Full Military Honors upon their death.  In September 2020 the Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard rendered its 1,460th Memorial Ceremony for a veteran.  This dedicated group of local Marines has been voluntarily conducting honor ceremonies throughout SLO County since July 1999. The majority of those so honored have been WWII veterans.

When new Marines earn their dress blue uniform in boot camp they are advised “they can’t wear them, till they earn them.”  The members of the Honor Guard earned the right in such places as Iwo Jima, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of combat.

The short honor ceremony, usually at internment, includes 3 rifle volleys, playing of taps, folding and presentation of the flag.  This poignant acknowledgement of the deceased’s service to their country is available for the family of all honorably discharged  Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine members.

The California State Senate recognized the group in May of 2012: “The Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard is deserving of special recognition and the highest commendation for its distinguished record of service and immeasurable contributions to the support of our military veterans.”


The Rifle Salute


This practice originated as an old custom of halting the fighting during a battle, so the dead could be moved from the battlefield. Once each Army cleared the dead and buried their solders, they would fire three volleys of rifle fire over the graves to indicate that the dead had been cared for and they were ready to go back to the fight.

Following the Civil War, this custom of firing three volleys of rifle fire was extended to the burial of all veterans of the Civil War. That practice is still followed today to honor all veterans that have an honorable discharge from the Military.

The fact that a Rifle Detail may at times consist of seven riflemen it does not constitute a 21 gun salute. The 21 Gun Salute is normally reserved for Presidents, Generals, and Heads of States. The 21 gun salute is normally fired by cannons.

Playing of Taps:


“Taps” is an American Bugle call, composed by the Union Army’s Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield while in camp at Harrison’s Landing Virginia, in 1862. Butterfield wrote the call to replace the earlier “Tattoo” (lights out), which he thought too formal. The call soon became know as “Taps” because it was often tapped out on a drum in the absence of a bugler. Within the year both the North and South Army’s were playing “Taps” at the burial of their solders. “Taps” was officially adopted by the U.S. Army in 1874.

“Taps” is now played by the military at burial and memorial services of active duty personnel and veterans that served their country honorably and to signal “lights out” at day’s end.


Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Fading light. Dims the sight.
And a star. Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright. From afar.
Drawing nigh. Falls the night.

Thanks and praise. For our days.
Neath the sun, Neath the stars.
Neath the sky, As we go
This we know
God is nigh


Folding of the Flag:


The Flag will be folded into a triangular shape with only the blue field with stars showing. The shape of the flag when completely folded takes on the appearance of a Cocked Hat, reminding us of the hats worn by the soldiers, sailors and marines that served under General George Washington and Captain John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. These men fought to preserve for us the Rights, Privileges and Freedoms that we all enjoy today.

This triangular shape has always been the traditional way that Burial Flags for United States of America Military personnel have been folded.

Presentation of the Flag to the Survivor:

                      PRESENTATION OF BURIAL FLAG

The United States Flag drapes the casket of deceased veterans to honor their service to America. The flag is placed so that the blue field with stars is at the head over the left shoulder of the deceased. When there is no casket ,then the flag may be draped over a table or held by one of the Honor Guard members.

After the rifle salute (Optional) and the playing of Taps, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape. When folded no red or white stripes are to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars.

The flag is then presented to the next of kin, or other appropriate family member as a keepsake. After the burial flag has been used for a veterans funeral or memorial it should never be flown again or displayed in any way other than in the tri-fold shape in which it was presented to the family of the veteran. The burial flag should never be opened again.


To make arrangements for your loved one to receive this honor as part of your acknowledgement of their patriotic contribution to our country at no charge* you may either:

  • Tell your Mortuary Funeral Director of your desire

  • Call the Honor Guard direct at 805.400.5340....and we take care of the rest



*Although there is no charge for Honor Guard services we do incur costs in providing them
and do appreciate grateful donations.