Last Salute: Civil and Military Funeral, 1921-1969
Former Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson
Combined Services Full Honor Funeral
22-25 January 1952
On 22 January 1952 an American Airlines plane crashed at Elizabeth, New
Jersey, as it approached a landing through fog and rain; six persons on
the ground and all aboard the aircraft were killed. Among the plane's
passengers was Robert P. Patterson, former Secretary of War. He was sixty
By current regulations the former Secretary of War would receive a Combined
Services Full Honor Funeral. Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Herren, commander of
the Military District of Washington, was responsible for making the funeral
arrangements in consultation with the Secretary's widow, Margaret Winchester
Patterson. Ceremonies were to take place in both New York City and Washington,
D.C.; General Herren was in charge of the Washington ceremonies and the
coordination of procedures for the entire funeral. Responsibility for
conducting the ceremonies in New York City rested with the Commanding
General, First U.S. Army, Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger.
By virtue of his Army service in World War I, during which he received
the Distinguished Service Cross, Mr. Patterson was to be buried in Arlington
National Cemetery. The gravesite selected was in Section 30, near the
graves of William Howard Taft, James V. Forrestal, and Admiral Forrest
Mr. Patterson's body was brought to New York City from New Jersey shortly
before noon on 24 January and placed in the Clark Room of the 7th Regiment
Armory, where it was to lie until 2300. Massed behind the casket were
four national colors, the personal flag of the Secretary of War, and the
colors and standards of the parent units of two honor guards who took
post at the casket. One of the guards was a member of the 306th Infantry,
77th Infantry Division (an Army Reserve unit), with which Mr. Patterson
had served in France during World War I. The other was from the Army National
Guard 107th Regiment. In 1916 Mr. Patterson had served with the 7th Regiment,
later redesignated the 107th, on the Mexican border. All honor guards
were furnished by the 107th and 306th Regiments and each two-man relief
stood a half-hour watch. The honor guard members from the 306th were in
battle dress, those from the 107th in dress gray uniforms specially designed
for their regiment.
Beginning at noon on the 24th the armory was opened to the public for
hours while a steady procession of friends, associates, and admirers
of Mr. Patterson filed by the bier to pay their last respects. Mrs. Patterson,
her son, and her three daughters visited the Clark Room in the early afternoon.
During the night of the 24th, Mr. Patterson's body was taken by train
to Washington and placed in the Washington National Cathedral to await
the funeral service at 1500 on the 25th.
Retired Maj. Gen. Luther D. Miller, canon of the cathedral and former
Army Chief of Chaplains, conducted the midafternoon funeral service. He
was assisted by the Reverend Lockett Ballard, rector of St. Phillip's
Church in Garrison, New York, and minister of the Patterson family, and
by the Right Reverend Angus Dun, Protestant Episcopal bishop of Washington.
Hymns were played before and after the service by the US Air Force Band.
Among those attending the service with the Patterson family were President
Harry S. Truman and his family. Also present was a large group of dignitaries
invited by the Patterson family to participate as honorary pallbearers.
Those asked included:
|Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson
||Thomas B. McCabe
|Maj. Gen. Julius Ochs Adler
||General of the Army George C. Marshall
|Montgomery B. Angell
||Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
|Warren R. Austin
||William L. Marbury
|Bernard M. Baruch
||Admiral Ben Moreell
|General of the Army Omar N. Bradley
||Floyd H. Odium
|Dr. Ralph J. Bunche
||Frederick H. Osborn
|General Lucius D. Clay
||Howard C. Petersen
|General J. Lawton Collins
|Dr. James B. Conant
||John Duff Reed
||Kenneth C. Royall
|General James H. Doolittle
||Elihu Root, Jr.
||General Brehon B. Somervell
|Edward S. Greenbaum
||Herbert Bayard Swope
|Former Judge Augustus N. Hand
||Dr. Dwight Sawyer
|Former Judge Learned Hand
||Dr. Charles Sawyer
|George L. Harrison
||Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
|Col. Donald R. Hyde
||John W. Waters
|Maj. Gen. John E. Hull
||Thomas J. Watson
|Judge John C. Knox
|Robert A. Lovett
|M. J. Madigan
||Boykin C. Wright
|W. G. Maguire
Following the simple Episcopal service led by Canon Miller,
CASKET IS TRANSFERRED TO THE CAISSON AT MEMORIAL GATE
casket was taken in procession from the cathedral and placed in a hearse.
A motorized cortege escorted by two armored cars then proceeded to the
Memorial Gate of Arlington National Cemetery.
A military escort meanwhile had formed on line on the green at the gate.
The units included the US Army Band; Company A, 3d Infantry; the Navy
Ceremonial Guard; the Marine Corps Ceremonial Company; and the 1100th
Ceremonial Detachment from Bolling Air Force Base. On Memorial Drive directly
in front of the military escort was the caisson, to which the casket would
be transferred immediately after the cortege reached the Memorial Gate.
Also on hand were a national color detail, a personal flag bearer, and
a joint team of body bearers from three of the armed services: the Army,
Navy, and Air Force.
When the cortege reached the Memorial Gate, the military escort presented
arms and the Army Band played as the body bearers transferred the casket
from the hearse to the horse-drawn caisson. Following the transfer, General
Herren, as escort commander, led the way into the cemetery, entering on
Roosevelt Drive. Behind him were the band, escort troop units, national
color detail, Canon Miller, the caisson flanked by the body bearers, the
personal flag bearer, the honorary pallbearers, the Patterson family,
and other mourners, in that order. As the procession moved, the 3d Infantry
battery, in position in the cemetery, fired a 19-gun
salute, spacing the rounds so that the last one was fired as the procession
arrived at the gravesite.
Canon Miller read the service at the grave. When he had finished, the
battery from the 3d Infantry fired a second 19-gun salute. A rifle squad
then delivered three volleys and an Army bugler sounded taps. The body
bearers folded the flag that had draped Mr. Patterson's casket and handed
it to Canon Miller, who then gave it to the Patterson family minister,
the Reverend Lockett Ballard, who presented the flag to Mrs. Patterson.