Gun Salute Question posed by Uncle Larry

Grandpa Lineberry passed away this past week and received a military funeral. After the services, Jerry’s Uncle Larry posed the question, “What is the difference between a 21 gun salute and the funeral salute?”. Nobody knew the answer (including a not to be named Naval Officer:-), so I decided to look it up and post the answer:

21 Gun SaluteToday the national salute of 21 guns is fired in honor of a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the President, ex-President and President-elect of the United States. It is also fired at noon of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.

3 Volley Salute
The 3-volley salute is a salute performed at military and police funerals as part of the drill and ceremony of the Honor Guard.

A rifle party, usually consisting of an odd number of firers, usually from 3 to 7 firearms. Usually the firearms are rifles for military, but at some police funerals, shotguns are used. The firing party is positioned such that, when they shoulder their arms for firing, the muzzles are pointed over the casket of the deceased who is being honored. If the service is being performed inside a church or chapel, or funeral home, the firing party fires from outside the building, typically positioned near the front entrance.

On the command of the NCO-in-charge, the firing party fires their weapons in unison, for a total of three volleys. Because unbulleted blanks (which will not cycle the action of a semi-automatic rifle) are used, in the United States, M1 or M14 rifles are preferred over the current issue M16 rifle, because the charging handles of the M1/M14 are more easily operated in a dignified, ceremonial manner than on the M16.

The three-volley salute is not to be confused with the 21-gun salute (or even lesser gun salutes, such as 19-gun or 17-gun, etc) which use cannon.

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