Making a difference since 1923 . . .
For almost 67 years Arlington Committee members have been attending funerals for Airman being buried at Arlington Cemetery. The idea for this important committee was first conceived when Gladys Vandenberg, the wife of the second Chief of Staff, General Hoyt Vandenberg, saw Airman being buried with only the Chaplain and bugler in attendance. She vowed that family would always be present when Airmen were laid to rest and began attending funerals herself. Soon she recruited her friends to help and formed the Arlington Committee of the AFOWC in November of 1948. Today that committee has about 50 members who attend an average of 75 funerals a month. They have represented the Chief, his wife, and our AF family at more than 27,000 funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
Being an Arlington Lady or Gentleman is an honor and privilege that requires a high level of commitment, patriotism, and courage. Poised, adaptable, focused and serene are words often used to describe them. USAF members of the AFOSC in good standing are eligible to apply for membership in the Arlington Committee. Orientation for new members is held in the spring and fall if there are vacancies to be filled. An extensive training program must be satisfactorily completed before a new member is placed on the substitute list or assigned to a regular ½ day.
During its 65th Anniversary year, the committee received the Commander’s Public Service Award from the 11th Wing. Also in 2013, the Air Force Association honored the AFOSC Arlington Committee with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Seven former chairs of the committee and 35 Ladies attended the award ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the over 500 AF Arlington Ladies and Gentlemen who have served. The Arlington Committee has been recognized and profiled by many media outlets over the years but the members of the committee prefer to fly under the radar and perform their duties quietly.
Members of the Arlington Committee offer gratitude and comfort to families laying their heroes to rest in the sacred soil of Arlington. We are honored to walk in the footsteps of Gladys Vandenberg, and know that 65 years from now others will be carrying on the legacy.
Jean Anderegg - February 2015