Burial at sea extra special for deployed sailor aboard Bunker Hill

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelsey J. Hockenberger/Released
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelsey J. Hockenberger/Released

Burial at sea extra special for deployed sailor aboard Bunker Hill

by: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class R. David Valdez, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs | .
published: December 20, 2017

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Twelve military veterans and three dependents were laid to rest Nov. 6, during a burial at sea ceremony aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52).

The tradition of a burial at sea is one of the duties carried out by the Navy when veterans or spouses choose to have their remains scattered at sea. For one Sailor aboard Bunker Hill, the occasion was more personal, as Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Rosario Cosentino VI sent his father's remains into the sea himself.

"We were sitting around the dinner table after dad died," said Cosentino, an Agoura Hills, California native. "He had said he wanted to have his ashes spread somewhere, but none of us were sure how or where to do it. My uncle suggested we have him buried at sea."

Cosentino spoke to the command chaplain, Lt. Kristian Carlson, and asked to have his father's remains spread at sea from a U.S. Navy ship. Carlson suggested performing the ceremony aboard Bunker Hill.

"I never even knew this was possible," said Cosentino. "I haven't been in the Navy very long, and while I knew people were put to rest at sea, I didn't know how that was done. Chaps really helped with that."

Part of what made Cosentino's relationship with his father, a former Operations Specialist 2nd Class, so special was the shared experience of being a Sailor.

"Dad was the only person I could talk to about what I was going through in the Navy," said Cosentino. "I could talk to my mom and sister, but Dad really knew what was going on when I was talking about it because he'd been there."

While Cosentino followed his father's example by joining the Navy, he also was awed by his father's strength during hard times.

"When Dad was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, the doctors told him he might have three months to live, but he went on to live for three years," Cosentino said.

The ceremony honored the service of the people who served and the people who stood by them while they served their country. Once all of the deceased were laid to rest, 'Taps' was sounded by a bugler, a rifle team of seven Sailors fired three volleys, and the service concluded.

"I didn't know if I could make it through 'Taps,'" Cosentino admitted. "When we were doing rehearsals for the ceremony, I got a little emotional."

Cosentino added that this was a fitting end for his father, as he'd previously deployed in the same part of the world in which he was laid to rest. Cosentino expressed gratitude to everyone involved.

"I have to thank my mom and my sister," said Cosentino. "They didn't have to let Dad go like this, as I'm the only member of the family who is going to be there to put my dad to rest. I'm grateful to Chaps for helping us do this, I'm grateful to the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief for taking a pause during operations, and I'm grateful to everyone else for supporting me through all of this."

Bunker Hill is on a regularly scheduled deployment with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. TRCSG is comprised of Carrier Strike Group 9 staff, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 staff, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, the guided-missile destroyers USS Halsey (DDG 97), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Sampson (DDG 102).

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

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