This video was taken with a 8-mm camera by a Classmate in OCS (Officer Candidate School) in spring of 1967 at Fort Benning, Georgia. When members of the 5th platoon were cleaning their TAC (Tactical) Officer's office one evening, they saw and killed three cockroaches. As a joke, they laid them in the "dying cockroach" position (on their backs with their feet in the air) on the TAC's desk-pad.
At breakfast the next morning, the TAC Officer yelled for the 5th Platoon Leader to post before him and proceeded to yell at him how he did not think the "joke" was funny because these three cockroaches were his pets who had been with him for many years and that mass genocide had occurred. He named off the names of his pets and demanded a military burial be conducted by the 5th platoon for the three cockroaches according to Field Manual 22-5 on the coming Saturday morning.
What you see are three pallbearers each carrying a white pillow with a small plastic container with a dead cockroach and a small American flag draped over the "coffin", which was a razor plastic case. There was a Candidate dressed as a Chaplin and draped with a white sheet, followed by a Candidate who drummed a coffee can with pencils followed by a firing squad led by the Platoon Leader acting as the Officer in Charge of the burial ceremony.
The burial party slowed marched across the street where three small graves had been dug with a cross at the head of each grave. Chairs had been setting up for the grieving parties (TAC's and their wives). After a Candidate played taps on a borrowed bugle, the firing squad fired a 21-gun salute with cap pistols in three volleys that they had been carrying in their belts. The caskets were put in their respective graves, the small flags were folded and presented on bended knee to the TAC Officer's wife and the Chaplain gave a prayer and comforting farewell words to the survivors.
It was definitely a proper military burial according to FM 22-5, except those buried were cockroaches and not soldiers. My Classmates had no idea that the cockroach funeral had been filmed until the Classmate who had taken the original movie had it copied to a DVD, dubbed with funeral music, and brought it to an OCS Class Reunion about 10 years ago.
Every year, we watch the video again and marvel on the planning and detail that took place. OCS Class 36-67 55th Company graduated on June 22, 1967.
The Officer in Charge was Fred Spaulding who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and two Silver Stars for his service in Vietnam. The Classmate who filed the ceremony was Ben Peters who was awarded the Silver Star in Vietnam.