From the Navy Times:
Coast Guard gives WWII vet a Viking funeral at sea
The Coast Guard carries out dozens of burials at sea in a given year, but one World War II veteran got a unique farewell.
On Sept. 29, Station Atlantic City fulfilled the final wishes of service veteran Andrew Haines, a New Jersey resident who died in late August at age 89. Haines spent more than a decade planning his own Norse-style send-off — a self-built funeral ship to carry his cremated ashes, which was then to be ignited with a flare.
“Oh, I was thrilled,” Haines’ son Andy told Navy Times. “I was thrilled when the Coast Guard called and told me we were doing it my way.”
Haines said his father, a World War II veteran who finished his tour at Atlantic City, had been planning his funeral for years. Andrew Haines emigrated from Norway as a child in 1927 and had stayed connected to his Scandinavian heritage throughout his life.
About 10 years ago, Andy said, Haines’ cousin in Norway sent him blueprints for a 100-foot wooden ship, which he scaled down as small as two feet, as a small construction project.
“When I came over to the house one day with the wife and one grandson, we were in the basement, and he’s got the whole bottom shell done with the deck, getting ready to put the rest of the stuff on,” Andy recalled.
Then Andy had an idea. He asked his father if he still wanted to be cremated, and he said he did.
“So I said, ‘How about if we try to make a Viking funeral out of this for you?’ ” he recalled.
Haines built five versions of the ship, his son said, settling on a 54-inch version for the ceremony.