MCB Quantico, VA --
The Provost Marshal Office, Traffic Division, is typically known for traffic enforcement, investigating traffic crashes and traffic control. However, there is one very special and honored tradition that the Traffic Division is known for. They provide a safe and honored escort for fallen Marines or sailors who are buried at Quantico National Cemetery. Working closely with the base chaplain’s office, multiple times a month about three police cars are lined up at the intersection of Kelton Avenue and Barnett Avenue near the Dunlap Traffic Circle. Inside those police cars is a mixture of Marines and civilian police officers assigned to the Traffic Division.
According to Sgt. Mitchell Bennett, a crash investigator with the Traffic Division, “Every escort we provide is special and unique. Our goal is to provide a safe, dignified, and uninterrupted procession to Quantico National Cemetery, which requires us to close portions of Route 1, Joplin Road and the Interstate 95 interchange. At times this can be very challenging because of how much traffic uses those roadways.”
However, at 2 a.m. on April 6 their normal mission changed, as their escort would not start at the typical intersection. Instead, the Traffic Division headed northeast to Dover Air Force Base to pick up an American hero and retired Marine Col. John H. Glenn. Directly behind the police motorcycles from the Dover State Police was Quantico’s Traffic Division, leading a joint service procession of the Military Police District Washington. Working closely with more than 20 law enforcement agencies from three separate states as well as Army Military Police, Air Force Security Forces and the Department of the Navy Police Glenn was successfully brought to Arlington National Cemetery.
Officer Michael Harris of the Traffic Division has done multiple escorts for fallen Marines and sailors. “I have done about 100 funeral escorts since being assigned to the Traffic Division; the distance, the amount of coordination and preparation of Colonel John Glenn’s was inspiring and I was extremely honored to be part of it. It was cold and raining that morning, but that didn’t stop citizens from lining the streets throughout Delaware, Maryland and Virginia showing their support and patriotism for an American hero.”
As a reminder, when you see a funeral procession you are to pull over to the shoulder to allow the procession to proceed uninterrupted. There will always be a lead police vehicle and a rear police vehicle and the vehicles in the procession are typically marked with a funeral tag and will have their lights and four way hazards on. Once the rear police vehicle passes you may continue your normal commute. For those who are participating in physical training and see a funeral procession you are asked to stop and pay respects to the fallen and their family. Under Virginia Statue 46.2-828 funeral processions escorted by PMO have the right of way and it is illegal to join, pass through or interfere with the procession.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Kalina, PMO Traffic Division Chief said that, “You would hope and believe that aboard a Marine Corps installation that no one would attempt to interfere or cut in an active procession; however, it happens more often than not. We have even had some individuals argue with my Marines and police officers. Please have respect for the fallen and their families.”