Facey gets 'hero's burial' at Arlington

In death, retired Army Col. Kenneth Facey has rejoined the brave men he was so honored to serve with while alive.


On April 26 -- after a grueling six-month wait for his family -- Facey was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

"He was a great American hero, and he got a hero's burial," said his widow, Faye Facey.

A Green Beret and veteran of three wars, Facey was honored with a full military burial that included a 21-gun salute and aerial pass by the Marine One helicopter.

A small memorial ceremony was held in Martinez after his death in October. Since then, his body had been kept in a mausoleum at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery as the family awaited his burial.

"It was worth waiting for," Faye Facey said.

Her husband had requested the honor after watching President Reagan's funeral ceremony in 2004, she said.

Love of his country and his Green Berets was a driving force in Facey's life.

He joined the military out of high school and was part of the 106th Infantry Division as it marched into Germany.

His unit made a detour to Belgium to help stop the German assault at the Battle of the Bulge.

Later he served in Korea and two tours in Vietnam, where he trained 12-man detachments to secure villages near the Viet Cong's routes.

Facey would use those experiences to advise John Wayne as he filmed his 1968 movie The Green Berets . He was given a small speaking part in the film, in which he briefs Wayne on an operation.

At his funeral, former co-workers and even members of the Montagnards -- mountain tribesman who aided U.S. Special Forces operations in Vietnam -- came to Washington to pay their respects.

"They all came to show their extreme admiration to him and what he did for our country," Faye Facey said.

A portrait of the colonel in uniform hangs in the foyer of their house, and she plans to make a space for the flag from his burial to go underneath.

Faye Facey said she takes comfort in knowing they will be together again. When she dies, she will be buried with her husband at Arlington.

Military honors

Kenneth Facey joined the Army on June 4, 1943, and served for 28 years.

In that time he earned numerous medals and awards, including:

- Legion of Merit

- Bronze Star

- Armed Forces Reserve Medal with X Device

- Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster

- Army Achievement Medal with four Oak leaf clusters

- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry

- Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal

- Vietnam Campaign Medal

- National Defense Service Medal

- Korea Service Medal

- United Nations Service Medal

- National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster

- Vietnam Service Medal Parachute Badge

- 10 Overseas Bars

- Jump Wings and Combat Infantry Badge

- Meritorious Unit Commendation

- Presidential Unit Citation