by Richard Lamb and Peter Jakey
A rare honor came to a Rogers City High School graduate two weeks ago near the nation’s capital. CW5 Duane Lewis Haneckow, who passed away April 18 at the age of 78, joined more than 420,000 men and women and two presidents when he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery Sept. 17.
Duane’s widow, Eileen, and their children, Suzanne Haneckow Bailey of Maro Island, Florida and Duane Haneckow Jr. of Woodbridge, Virginia, were there along with his brother Don and his wife Joanna and relatives Jackie and Matt Quaine and their son, David. Several of those he served with also attended the ceremony.
The magnitude of the surroundings and respect shown at the ceremony made a deep impression on all who were there. With the temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and slightly overcast skies, an early-morning shower cleared by midmorning for the 11 a.m. rites.
“Through all his military time Duane never attended a funeral at Arlington. If he had, he would have made sure I went with him. He would have been impressed with this,” his widow Eileen said.
The entire ceremony was very regimental, Eileen said from the time the casket came off the Beck Funeral Home hearse to the final moments. Ted Beck and his father, Ted Beck Sr. 91, and a World War II veteran, delivered the casket from Rogers City to Arlington where the military took charge from there.
“Words cannot describe the awesomeness of a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. My dad and I felt a huge sense of pride as Americans, when we saw the honor, dignity and reverence given to Mr. Haneckow before, during and after his service. We were also warmed by the respect given to Mrs. Haneckow during her husband’s funeral,” Beck Jr. said.
All who were in attendance agreed the ceremony would never be forgotten.
“The senior chaplain had never done a ceremony for anybody who had been in the military for 42 and one-half years, so he was quite honored,” she said. Haneckow Sr. retired March 16, 2001 at a chief warrant officer.
Following the ceremony in the chapel, the family proceeded to the burial plot more than one mile away. Once at the site, they were seated with Eileen at the end followed by Haneckow Jr., and Suzanne.
“I’ve been around the military a lot but I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know how to feel because this hits home so bad,” Eileen said when thinking about the day.
“I think the hardest thing is that I just can’t go down to the cemetery any more. But I know that when we made our plans that was how it was going to be. Someday I will be there,” she said. Eileen, who purchased a home in Rogers City this summer after living with her husband in Moltke since 2011, will join her husband some day at Arlington.
Haneckow Sr. was laid to rest in the national cemetery on Eisenhower Lane, which had great meaning for Eileen. Dwight D. Eisenhower served as United States President when Haneckow entered the military. Haneckow Sr.’s headstone will read “always on watch,” and should be ready in the coming weeks.
Only a select few earn the right to be buried at Arlington.
“Before Duane got very sick we decided to go in and make his arrangements. He knew he was not feeling well and he knew he should do it so his children and myself wouldn’t have that responsibility. Only above a certain rank are you allowed this and he had high honors. He had the caisson with the horses. He had the chapel and the 21-gun salute. He had the honor band and he had a bugler,” Eileen said.
Only generals get a horseless rider with boots on backwards, she said.
Haneckow Sr. graduated from Rogers City High School Class in 1958 and began his U.S. Army career in February 1959 at the age of 18 with basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He moved through advanced individual training at the radio direction finding course at Fort Devens, Massachusetts where he met his wife Eileen who grew up in a small town 26 miles outside of Boston.
His first assignment was with the 177th Army Security Agency Company in Seoul, South Korea near the demilitarized zone. The Army Security Agency folded and became Military Intelligence. In March 1961, while assigned at Two Rock Ranch Station, California, SP4 Haneckow Sr. received orders for the 3rd Radio Research Unit in Saigon, Vietnam where he held a DF supervisor position.
He returned to Fort Devens in July 1962 and performed instructor duty at the Army Security Agency Center and School. In September 1963, SP5 Haneckow Sr. went to Germany for the first of three tours. On the final stop, he accepted the challenge of planning and executing the closure of the field station’s Teufelsberg Operations complex in Berlin, that ceased operations in August 1992. From there, he went to U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to serve as a staff action officer.
Haneckow Sr.’s major awards and decorations included Legion of Merit; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal; Army Commendation; Joint Service Achievement Medal; and the Air Crewmember Badge. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the State of New York.
After he retired he received the distinguished honor of having a classroom named after him at the Military Intelligence School at Fr. Huachuca, Arizona.
He is the son of the late Alfred and Doris Haneckow who resided in Rogers City.
“It was really unbelievable. I had never seen anything like it,” she said. “He would have been taken with it. I think deep down he knew what was going to happen, as far as all the ceremony. He knew exactly what he was entitled to have,” Eileen said.