Hi, Lucy !
I do hope this is not a time of immediate need for you.
I am assuming your concern for your husband's eligibility is because
he did not serve directly in a combat zone. However, being on "active
duty" is not the same as having "seen action" (i.e. been in a battle).
You can be considered to be on "active duty" when training, for
The G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977, extended veteran status to such
groups as the Women's Air forces Service Pilots, and defined the
criteria for eligibility of a particular groups as including:
"(2) In making a determination under clause (A) of paragraph (1) of
this subsection with respect to any group described in such paragraph,
the Secretary of Defense may take into consideration the extent to
(A) such group received military training and acquired a military
capability or the service performed by such group was critical to the
success of a military mission,
(B) the members of such group were subject to military justice,
discipline, and control,
(C) the members of such group were permitted to resign,
(D) the members of such group were susceptible to assignment for duty
in a combat zone, and
(E) the members of such group had reasonable expectations that their
service would be considered to be active military service."
This section is quoted at:
I would feel that the Construction Battalion (the Sea Bees) qualified
on all those counts, particularly D. The SeaBees were certainly
"susceptible to assignment for duty in a combat zone", whether or not
your husband's particular unit was ever actually sent there.
In any case, in1988 veteran status was extended to include members of
the merchant marines, and in 1989 it was extended to include certain
"Section 401, November 23, 1977 (38 U.S.C. 106 Note) (b) DOD Directive
1000.20, "Active Duty Service Determinations for Civilian or
Contractual Groups of 11 Sep 89 (NOTAL)
To prescribe the procedures to apply for a discharge certificate for
a member of an established group of civilian employees or contract
workers who provided service to the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps in
a manner considered active military service recognized by the
Secretary of the Air Force, and to implement references (a) and (b).
2. Background. Reference (a) directed that the service of any person,
under certain conditions, who rendered service to the Armed Forces of
the United States in a capacity considered civilian employment or
contractual service at the time such service was rendered, could be
considered active duty for the purposes of all laws administered by
the Department of Veterans' Affairs. "
As you can see, the definition of "active service" has been
I see that Omniverous-ga has answered your slightly different question
with some good links and comments. I will try to add a little to the
The Department of Veteran's Affairs' site has a wealth of information:
Eligibility is covered at:
"Persons Eligible for Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemetery directors have
the primary responsibility for verifying eligibility for burial in VA
national cemeteries. A determination of eligibility is usually made in
response to a request for burial in a VA national cemetery.
a. Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force,
Marine Corps, Coast Guard)
(1) Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies on
(2) Any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than
dishonorable. ..... Undesirable,bad conduct, and any other type of
discharge other than honorable may or may not qualify the individual
for veterans benefits, depending upon a determination made by a VA
Regional Office. Cases presenting multiple discharges of varying
character are also referred for adjudication to a VA Regional
They also list persons who are not eligible which include:
"d. Disqualifying Characters of Discharge
A person whose only separation from the Armed Forces was under
dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar
to veterans benefits.
f. Person Found Guilty of a Capital Crime
g. Subversive Activities
Any person convicted of subversive activities after September 1, 1959,
shall have no right to burial in a national cemetery from and after
the date of commission of such offense, based on periods of active
military service commencing before the date of the commission of such
offense, nor shall another person be entitled to burial on account of
such an individual. Eligibility will be reinstated if the President of
the United States grants a pardon. ....."
The site suggests the best way to confirm eligibility is to call a
Veteran's Benefits Counselor at: 1-800-827-1000
Elsewhere they say:
"For Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries
cannot be reserved in advance; however, reservations made prior to
1962 will be honored. Families are encouraged to prepare in advance by
discussing cemetery options, collecting the veteran's military
information including discharge papers, and by contacting the cemetery
where burial is desired."
They have an extremely helpful page on how to make the burial
arrangements when in need which tells you what you need to do. Your
funeral home should also know who to contact and what to do.
"If possible, the following information concerning the deceased should
be provided when the cemetery is first contacted:
· Full name and military rank;
· Branch of service;
· Social security number;
· Service number;
· VA claim number, if applicable;
· Date and place of birth;
· Date and place of death;
· Date of retirement or last separation from active duty; and,
· Copy of any military separation documents, such as the Department of
Defense Form 214 (DD-214).
The discharge documents must specify active military duty and show
that release from active duty was under other than dishonorable
conditions" Note, they do say "if possible".
It is also possible to request an official headstone or marker for a
veteran buried in a private cemetery.
Under "Military Funeral Honours" - click on the menu on the left - or
you will find that:
"Upon the family's request, the law requires that every eligible
veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding
and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps.
The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two
or more uniformed military persons with at least one a member of the
veteran's parent service of the Armed Forces. The DOD program calls
for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on
behalf of the veterans' family, however the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also
assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national
Your local funeral home can make these arrangements for you.
A site dedicated to the story of the SeaBees during the Korean
conflict, maintained by Larry G. DeVries
CAPT, CEC, USNR (Ret.) can be found at:
(That should be all on one line with Seabees as one word.)
"A Korean era project that occupied many Seabees was begun in the
Philippines in 1951. It was at this time that the Seabees began
building the naval base there at Cubi Point. Three thousand Seabees
from MCB-2, 3, 5, 9, and 11 spent the next five years expending over
20 million man-hours building the installation for the United States
Seventh Fleet. ("Mobilizer, May-June 1992, p. 13)."
This project is further described at:
"At Cubi, Seabees cut a mountain in half to make way for the nearly
2-mile-long runway, blasted coral, and filled in a section of Subic
Bay that is almost a mile wide and nearly 2 miles long. The Seabees
took nearly 5 years and 20 million man-hours to construct the air
station and its adjacent aircraft carrier pier that is capable of
docking the Navy's biggest aircraft carriers. The amount of coral and
fill required for the job-some 20 million cubic yards-was equal to the
task of building the Panama Canal."
This was certainly a project of military significance.
In the event that you have mislaid your husband's military records,
these are not kept by the Department of Veteran's Affairs but they can
be requested from:
Information from this source is only available to the veterans
themselves, or "Next of kin of a deceased, former member of the
The next of kin can be any of the following: surviving spouse that has
not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother. "
You will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the big
red button to start processing the request.
You might also be interested in a site honouring the "Sea Bees" ,
particularly those of WWII, at:
and also the site of the 31st Naval SeaBees Association at:
The Navy's own SeaBee site can be found at:
Finally, if you have difficulty establishing your husband's status,
consider contacting the Battalion itself; someone there might be able
to help you.
I hope all goes well for you at what sounds like a difficult time.
Public Law 95-202
Construction Battalion Korean War