Throughout the years, different cultures have preferred different methods of burying and remembering their loved ones. The Norsemen, for instance, would often prepare savage and elaborate services to send the deceased into the afterlife. Some of these services involved cremating the remains, placing the ashes on a boat with gifts and offerings, then setting the ship on fire and sending it into the cold sea. Recently, a WWII veteran received similar treatment with help from the U.S. Coast Guard stationed at Atlantic City.

Andrew Haines, a WWII veteran who ended his tour and finished the rest of his life in Atlantic City, died in August at the age of 89. As a serviceman proud of his Viking heritage, Haines and his son arranged for a very special burial at sea. Officers with the Coast Guard say burials at sea aren’t unusual and, according to Atlantic City’s operations officer, the outfit alone performs about 7 burials at sea each month. What made Haines’ burial at sea different was its Norse roots.

Haines’ son Andy said in an interview with USA Today that he was “thrilled” the Coast Guard had sorted out a way to fulfill his father’s final wishes. Haines was born in Norway and moved to the United States in 1927. He never forgot his Scandinavian heritage, however, and remained in close contact with his family across the sea. Nearly ten years ago, one of Haines’ cousins sent him blueprints for a traditional Viking ship measuring over 100 feet long. Haines set about making scaled down versions of the boat in his free time, hammering, sawing and nailing with his only good hand.

After seeing the hard work his father was putting into the boats, Andy asked if would like to be cremated and set to sea like the Norse burials of old. Haines agreed and began making multiple versions of the replica ship before finally deciding on the perfect 54-inch long boat. After Haines passed from natural causes in August, his son filed the necessary paperwork with the Coast Guard for a burial at sea. Though burials at sea are not uncommon, Haines’ memorial posed a very specific challenge of being safely lit on fire on the water. According to the Coast Guard, the boat took 20 minutes to burn as family members looked on and remembered their loved one.

Haines’ story is another great reminder of the many benefits to choosing cremation over other burials. Cremation allows a family to choose the very best memorial service ranging from the unique and elaborate to the simple and serene. Cremation also allows people to preplan their ceremony, thereby sorting out all the details ahead of time and allowing their family to focus on remembering their life rather than planning an expensive funeral. If someone has died or you’d like to speak with someone about preplanning a cremation, call Philadelphia Cremation Society today: (610) 572-7078