Theodore Roosevelt Bids Farewell to Fallen Photographer’s Mate

140605-N-JC800-052Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) laid to rest a retired Photographer’s Mate (PH) during a burial at sea ceremony, June 5.

Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ronald David Avanzato, who born April 8, 1953, passed away March 27, 2014. He served nearly 21 years in the Navy and retired from active duty Jan. 31, 1993.

“I felt honored to be a part of the ceremony,” said Religious Program Specialist Seaman Nicholas Rospos. “I actually volunteered to help and lay [Avanzato] to rest.”

During his service, Avanzato received the national defense service medal twice, the sea service deployment ribbon three times, the southwest Asia service medal and the good conduct medal five times.

“I think it’s great that we provide this service to our fellow shipmates,” said Rospos. “We collect seven brass cartridges from the 21-gun salute and send those with the flag to the family.”

Cmdr. Jeff Craig, executive officer of TR, and Lt. Cmdr. Chris Hester, a chaplain aboard TR, spoke at the ceremony.

“Our nation has always regarded the burying of our military dead as an honored and sacred tradition,” said Craig. “It is with honor and humility that the USS Theodore Roosevelt was able to commit PH1 Ronald Avanzato to the sea.”

The PH rate was one of four that were merged to create the current Mass Communication Specialist rate in 2007. The others rates were Journalist (JO), Lithographer’s Mate (LI) and Draftsman (DM).

“It is very important to give a proper send off to our fellow shipmates,” said Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Brett Elliott. “It is our way of honoring those who have gone before us and create an everlasting moment for their family.”

A burial at sea ceremony is available to active duty members of the armed services, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged. It is also available to U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependents of active duty service members.

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