Military funerals and headstone dedication ceremonies
Every serviceman or woman who is killed whilst on active service is given a military funeral, even those who are located and buried decades later.
The history of military funerals can be traced back to the 18th century, where coffins were borne by bearer parties consisting of officers or soldiers, depending on the rank of the deceased.
Australian service personnel killed during World War I and World War II were buried in the closest Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the country in which they died. Those killed during the Korean War were buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea. The human remains of Australian servicemen subsequently recovered are buried in a cemetery appropriate to the date of their death.
In January 1966, during the Vietnam War, the policy was changed to burial in the closest war cemetery or repatriation to Australia at family request.
In some cases, soldiers may not be able to be identified by name and they may be buried as unidentified soldiers who are "Known only to God". These soldiers are still given a full military funeral.
When soldiers are buried as unidentified soldiers their case remains open so that any additional evidence can be investigated in the hope of identifying them at a later date. When an identity can be confirmed, a replacement headstone will be installed bearing his name and a family inscription.
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