Merrill Young Foutz

7 November 1921 - 29 January 2002
Husband - Father

On Friday, April 26, 2002, a service for retired Air Force Major Merrill Y. Foutz was attended by family and friends at the Arlington National Cemetary. Merrill shared the same plot as his wife, Barbara, who had been interned earlier.

Barbara and Merrill photo

Barbara and Merrill Foutz

A Legacy of Joy

In accordance with Merrill's wishes, his family and friends gathered in the Washington DC area to celebrate his life by making his remembrance a time of joy -- much as he had done yearly by remembering and celebrating the life of his wife, Barbara, whose gravesite he shares. These are the photographs taken of this occasion by Jerrold Foutz, his brother, and others.

Barbara Bolt Foutz

By tradition, a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces may share a burial plot. Barbara and Merrill were married 4 October 1944 and when she died, 20 November 1991, she was interned in a plot at Arlington National Cemetary in the Washington, DC, area.

At least once a year Merrill and his children visited her gravesite. These events were marked more as a celebration of joy and remembrance, rather than grief -- a tradition Merrill started. When in the Washington, DC, area, other family members and friends came and paid their respects.

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Greg Dana Mickey Margie John
Winter 1997: Dee
Winter 1997: Jerry
Winter 1997: Gravesite

Merrill's Last Party

Family and friends of Merrill flew into Washington, DC, throughout the day on Thursday and gathered that evening in the lobby-bar of the The Governor's House Hotel for an informal party. Merrill attended in his brass urn wearing the colorful baseball hat that he was never without during the last couple of years of his life. The gathering set the tone Merrill wished -- joy in the company of friends and family.

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Darlene Ashley Elizabeth Mindy Kristen Monica Greg
Mickey Dee Darlene Elizabeth
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Mindy JT
Doug Monica Kristen
Darlene Margie John Diane Dee Mickey
Mickey (Merrill in urn with cap) Greg John
Merrill (brass urn with hat)
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Mickey Dana Elizabeth
Mindy Ashley Dana
Margie Diane Dee Mickey Elizabeth Greg
Mickey Margie
Kristen Greg

The Gathering at Arlington

Friday morning we gathered in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the limousines to take us to Arlington. Merrill's urn was turned over to the Arlington staff, pictures taken, and we assembled in a room provided to meet with cemetary staff and the Air Force Chaplain. After a briefing on what to expect, we waited until it was time to take the limousines to the transfer point at Patton Circle, where Merrill's urn would be transferred to the caisson.

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Diane Mindy
Diane Darlene
Margie Darlene Dee
Greg Monica Mindy Kristen Dana
Greg Monica Mindy Kristen Dana
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Doug Margie Mickey Greg
Doug Margie Mickey Greg
Darlene Diane Dee Jerry
Darlene Diane Dee Jerry
Elizabeth John Ashley JT
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Mindy Kristen ? Greg JT Elizabeth Greg
Margie Greg Dana Monica

A Full-Honors Funeral

Merrill earned his right to a full-honors funeral by a career in the Air Force. He enlisted in the Army Air Force prior to World War II into the flying sergeants program -- a short lived experiment where pilots got their wings as Staff Sergeants, not officers. They were later made officers. At graduation, he was both the youngest non-commissioned officer and youngest pilot in the Army Air Force. He considered himself an airplane driver and he loved nothing better. Although qualified in a wide variety of aircraft including jets, he began by flying the C-47 transport plane and this was what he did best. First flying in support of the invasion of Africa (and ending up for a short time in the French Foreign Legion), he then flew the Himalayas, the "hump" between India and China, in support of Chenault's flying tigers and the Chinese government. This is where he earned his Distinguished Flying Cross and Chinese medals. He flew the Berlin Airlift from beginning to end. Then, in special services, he flew visiting Congressmen around Europe, and when NATO Head and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower needed to fly in a C-47 to get into short runways, Merrill flew him. During the Korean War he was a flying-safety investigator investigating plane crashes. Since pilots are grounded the last year before retiring, he served as head of the Officer's Club at March Air Force Base, California -- putting his life-long love of cooking into practice. Retirement left him time for a second career in banking, and he retired the second time as a Vice-President of Security Pacific Bank.

Merrill was the fifth child of seven of Klea Young and Lehi Junius Foutz. He is survived by Jerrold Foutz (Jerry), the youngest child. Merrill and Barbara had three sons, two surviving. Merrill Young Foutz, Jr. (Mickey) (died after the funeral), John Roger Foutz (John), and Gregory Stuart Foutz (Greg). Merrill's oldest son (Mickey) and executor of his estate served the role of next of kin.

A full-honors military funeral is a sobering event. One can imagine families coming to the event with a wide spectrum of emotions -- from the basic joy of our family in celebrating a life to deep grief for other families. Once the ceremony starts, it doesn't matter the viewpoint of the family. The military bury their own -- and they do it with a style and tradition that goes back for centuries. Our National Cemetary at Arlington, Virginia, knows how to do it well. Major Merrill Y. Foutz, a highly decorated career Air Force pilot, was one of their own -- the family, friends, and on-lookers were only guests. Respected guests, but still only guests.

The elements of a full-honors funeral for an Air Force officer consist of:

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Urn is transferred to caisson at Patton Circle for 1 1/2 mile downhill procession to grave site.
Bodybearer team forms behind caisson.
Air Force Ceremonial Brass Band joins procession.
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Caisson and bodybearing team start procession.
Family following caisson to grave site.
Caisson proceeds to grave site.
Urn arrives at road nearest gravesite.
Bodybearers remove urn from caisson.
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Honor guard flight and band meet at grave site.
Bodybearers carry urn to grave site.
Flag stretched over urn and grave site.
Air Force Chaplain conducts service.
Military honors. Firing party fires three volleys of seven.
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Military honors. Band plays while color guard looks on. The buglers play echoed taps from a distance.
Military honors: Folding of the flag. Not shown are presentation to next of kin, and the Arlington Lady offering condolences.
An Airman remains on vigil at the gravesite until internment. Greg and others upright flowers blown over during service.
Urn Greg Vigil-Airman Margie
Consolation. Greg and Darlene
Consolation: Doug

Sight Seeing

During his first visit to Arlington for Barbara's internment, Merrill hired a limousine from a small start-up limousine company, became friends with its owner-driver (something Merrill excelled at), and as the company grew, continued to use the services. Several of the drivers knew Merrill and participated in the funeral service. These limousines were engaged for the full day. After the services, they were used for a tour of Arlington National Cemetary and then took us back to the hotel to change clothes and have lunch. After lunch, the family broke into groups to use the limos the rest of the day for sight-seeing. That evening the limos took us to an informal dinner. As one of the younger family members described Washington sight-seeing ... " walk-walk-walk, up-stairs, look, down-stairs, walk-walk-walk ... walk-walk-walk, up-stairs, look, down-stairs, walk-walk-walk; ... " Even with a limo.

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Gathering for tour. Greg, Kristen holding flag, JT, John, Elizabeth, Monica, limo driver.
Dee Diane Darlene
Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetary (solarized print)
Lunch: Dee Darlene Margie Mickey Doug Greg Dana
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Margie Dee Diane
Korean Memorial (solarized)
Korean Memorial
Kristen Darlene Diane
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Monica Kristen
Lincoln Memorial: Diane Darlene Dee

Remembering Merrill

Merrill and Barbara loved German food and their favorite place to eat it was the Old Europe Restaurant. This was the final stop for the limos. The agenda was for family and friends to enjoy Merrill's favorite food in his favorite restaurant -- and then tell your favorite Merrill anecdote. To do so, you stood up, came to the head of the table, and put on Merrill's multi-colored baseball cap. You know someone all your life, -- and you think you know them well, but everyone learned something new. The recurring theme was his sense of humor and his generosity in helping others.

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Diane Darlene Doug Greg Margie Mickey Dee
John Elizabeth Mindy Dana Greg (Phil Keyritz?) ? Monica JT
Monica Kristen Mindy Ashley John Elizabeth Dana
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A Toast: Dana Greg
Remembering Merrill: Greg
Remembering Merrill:Mickey
Remembering Merrill: Dee
Remembering Merrill: Diane
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Remembering Merrill: John
Remembering Merrill: JT
Remembering Merrill: Jerry

With John's picture, I ran out of film (digital storage). Thanks to Darlene for JT's and my picture. I hope others can provide more.

A Formal Dinner

Saturday everyone did their own thing until evening. Then the limos picked us up again to take us to the Orantique restaurant for a formal and final dinner. No more film (digital storage), so no pictures. I hope others have some.

The Good Times Remembered

Although I had six siblings, Merrill with his wife Barbara were the closest in distance and temperament. We spent a lot of family time together. Merrill and Barbara's three sons were the older cousins to our three children and there were many good times to remember. Here is my family, David, Diane, Darlene, and wife Dee (the photographer never gets in the picture), with Barbara and Merrill on one of those occasions just before Barbara's death. Tim is Diane's husband, and David and Darlene weren't married yet. This was the last time our whole family were with them. Dee and I saw the two together one more time in March 1991 when we visited them in Georgia. When Merrill moved to Chico after Barbara's death, we got to see him fairly often and experience the hospitality of Greg and Dana on our yearly trailer trip to Banff, Canada, which always included the loop of Denver, Yakima, and Chico to see family.

David Merrill Tim Diane Darlene Barbara Dee
Alta Loma, California - 1990

Original: October 21, 2002, Revised: January 06, 2007