Lifelong friend keeps promise, takes Marine on final journey

Flag folding during a Marine Corps funeral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 2008 | Photo by Cpl. Anthony Ortiz, provided courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Buried with full military honors, 85-year-old Marine Cpl. Marvin A. Jones took his final journey to the graveside in “Marine Corps” style in a casket adorned with eight crafted handles escorted by a lifelong friend in a show of promise kept.

Ruth arrives in a pouring rain with the covered casket in his restored 1950 Jeep keeping his promise to his friend Jones Saturday, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Bill Fortune, St. George News

The retired marine was laid to rest Feb. 18 at the St. George City Cemetery following a service officiated by the Utah Dixie Detachment 1270 Marine Corps League.

Amid the time-honored 21-gun salute and folding of the flag came something extraordinary across the grounds.

A fully restored 1943 Marine Corps Ford Jeep towing a trailer laden with the casket arrived at the gravesite.

As the coffin was positioned, the handles came into view; instead of traditional brass handles it was adorned with handcrafted stirrups, the final gift from Clawson “Tuffy” Ruth, whose friendship with Jones began more than seven decades ago, retired Marine and public information officer for the detachment Bill Fortune said.

On the day of the funeral Ruth honored his friend’s last request as he transported the casket in the pouring rain with the Jeep that he restored.

The firing detail renders the 21-gun salute at Jones’s military funeral held at the St. George City Cemetery Saturday in St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Bill Fortune, St. George News

“The procession with the Jeep fulfilled a promise made by Ruth to his friend when Jones became very ill,” Fortune said, “when he promised to take his friend to his final resting place in the Jeep that took countless hours to restore.”

“His friend Marvin would never ride with him in the jeep on his trips to the local hills but guessed he thought a trip to the cemetery would be safe enough,” Fortune said of the gesture.

Ruth said that Jones came to him four weeks before he died and said, “Hey Ruth, I have a job for you.”

Jones then asked him to “haul him to the cemetery in the Jeep,” Ruth said.

Jones was rendered full military honors as time honored military traditions were performed, including a solemn performance of “Taps,” the folding of the flag and the 21-gun salute.

Military honors

Military honors at a funeral are available for military members who died while on active duty service or in the selective reserve, honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty or in the selective reserve or former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment.

The 21-gun-salute

The 21-gun salute, a long-standing military tradition, honors the dead by showing their weapons are no longer hostile. Whereas naval fleets traditionally discharge seven rounds in commemoration, their on-land counterparts shoot 21 rounds.


“Taps” was composed by General Daniel Butterfield of the Union Army during The Civil War. Originally composed to signal “lights out,” the somber tune became a traditional way to honor service members, eventually becoming a staple at funeral services to honor the extinguishing of a life, according to information obtained from West Point Academy.

The folding of the flag

At the end of the service, the flag is removed from the casket and carefully folded by the honor guard.

Larry Mineer and Steve Handy prepare to fold the flag Saturday at the St. George City Cemetery, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Bill Fortune, St. George News

The first fold is a symbol of life, while the second fold is a symbol of eternal life. The third is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing the ranks, while the fourth represents a weaker nature, as American citizens trusting in God.

The fifth fold is a tribute to a veteran’s country, the sixth represents where their heart lies. The Seventh fold is a tribute to the armed forces with the eighth honoring those who entered the valley of the shadow of death and to honor the veteran’s mother.

The ninth fold is a tribute to women and their faith, love and loyalty while the 10th is a tribute to their father who defended his children’s country. The eleventh relates to Hebrew citizens and represents the seal of King David and Solomon. The twelfth fold in the eyes of Christian citizens represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded the stars are present in the “uppermost” position, a reminder of the national motto – “In God We Trust.”


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  • Henry February 26, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    What a GREAT story of friendship and patriotism – Semper Fi. Thank you Cody Blowers for writing such a heartwarming article.

    • Cody Blowers February 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      It was certainly my honor to write this story, and what a remarkable story it was. Thank you very much Henry, I enjoyed every minute of it!

      Warm Regards,

      Cody Blowers

  • .... February 26, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    This is absolutely what’s it all about what a touching story and so respectively written. well done !

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