Fw: Honoring our protectors...

AIRLINE CAPTAIN

He writes: My lead Flight Attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight."
(H.R. stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked.

'Yes', she said.

'Is there an escort?' I asked.

'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'.

'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said..

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia', he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words on his own..

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', he said. He then proceeded to tell me that the Father, Mother, Wife and 2-year old Daughter were escorting their Son, Husband, and Father Home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia.

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when he asked me if there was anything I could do.. 'I'm on it', I said. I told him that I would get back to him.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher.. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:

'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us..

'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a Special Announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his Father, Mother, Wife, and Daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.


I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA.


Foot note
As a Viet Nam Veteran I can only think of all the Veterans including the ones that rode below the deck on their way home and how they were treated. When I read things like this I am proud that our country has not turned their backs on our solders returning from the various war zones today and give them the respect they so deserve.


I know every Viet Nam Veteran who reads this will have tears in their eyes Including me.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since RWers love anecdotal stories... A young ROTC kid I know was out with his buddies, in uniform, trying to sell chocolates to raise money for their organization. It was disappoining because people weren't buying, but instead told this 13 yo kid, "Thank you for your service."
I bet those "real Americans" felt they'd done their good deed for the day.

Anonymous said...

How mortifying to be singled out like that. Hey captain, not everyone wants to be a celebrity. Some like their privacy respected while they mourn.

Anonymous said...

Typical dove talk. After everything that was done to give honor to this (and every) fallen soldier, you have the audacity to disrespect their family by not respecting the soldier who has given their all for their country. War is a way to protect our freedoms, always has and always will be. If you can't get past the "blame game" and appreciate our servicemen or women, then I suggest you move to a country where the gov't won't give your inalienable rights which our country was founded on. If our son had given his life when he served, we certainly would have appreciated any condolences from those nearby. What is your "change"...closed caskets and no viewings for all who die...or is that mortifying to the mourning family??

Anonymous said...

Way to project the hippies that live in your head onto a random blog comment, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Typical wingnut drivel: idiotic, hypocritical and clueless.

First off, there's no proof that this event actually happened or happened in the way described. If our long experience with RWFs has taught us anything, we have reason to doubt its authenticity.

Next, even if it is true, what in the two comments above yours was disrespectful to the family or the fallen soldier in question? One comment ridiculed right wingers for their hypocrisy, while the other admonished the captain for pointing a spotlight at a grieving family. Where's the disrespect?

I also find it funny that you would somehow disparage the new administration for its policies about war dead, when it was the Bush administration which banned cameras from showing the flag draped coffins of our casualties. It was Obama who reversed that decision. So who is hiding what?

The government gives us rights? I thought the government just takes things away from good, honest Real Americans like yourself?

And do you really think that "dove" is some big insult?

Marc with a C said...

Wow, they really pad the hell out of those feel-good stories, don't they?

I've never been an airline captain, or a veteran, or a dead guy, but I have handled dead bodies before. And you know what? It's business as usual. Sometimes the family gets upset and sometimes they cause a scene, but all the cops and morticians I know are professional, calm, polite, but firm. You sure as hell don't let their emotions get in the way of your job, and don't make the rest of the world stop to call attention to someone else's grief.

But of course, in the world of right-wing make believe, this is par for course. Or, told another way:

"My lead Flight Attendant came to me and said, 'We have an H.R. on this flight.'
(H.R. stands for human remains.)

'Are they military?' I asked.

'No', she said.

We made it to our destination 10 minutes early.

The End."

katz said...

Dear troll:

Please pick a screen name.

Also, please try to find something to say that's on topic (for instance, respond to a specific comment and quote the relevant portion in your comment). Then we could have an actual discussion.

gruaud said...

The RW soldier-worship is inversely
proportional to the reality:

Troops are props for the fake
patriots like '5-deferments' Cheney
and George 'Champagne Unit' Bush.

Troops are political weapons to use
against people who oppose wars of
aggression (the dreaded doves).
This forward is a classic example.

When troops outlive their use-
fullness, they are discarded to
rot in VA hospitals or their dead
bodies are shipped back as 'freight'.

At no time, are cameras allowed to
film the returning dead. Any
expose of abuses at VA hospitals
must be stonewalled.

Many officers are on board with
that bullshit, but most of the
grunts know the true score.

ferschitz said...

Well I'm a liberal DOVE and proud of it! I don't see anything wrong with that, but I note that conservatives seem to think that calling me that name is the be all end all of something or other and proves their self-righteous opinionated moral superiority. What a crock.

When progressives protest against the war - for a variety of reasons, but partly bc we don't want troops & others to die - we are excoriated by conservative hawks (most of whom never ever served in the military, nor will their kids) for being unpatriotic. Why? I'm very patriotic; I love my country; and I have deep concern and respect for our troops. And that includes not wanting them to die, either, in useless wars that we were LIED TO in order that the super wealthy & corrupt politicians, like the Bushes & the Cheneys, can make tons of money. So, hey, conservative: go THINK about that for a change.

You think that the conflict in Iraq was about WMD or something? WRONG. You think that we had to go into Iraq bc Saddam Houssein was supporting Al Qaeda? WRONG. Saudi Arabia was the big financial and otherwise support of Al Qaeda, and go look at photos of W kissing Bin Saud on the lips and holding his hand. Please: come back and talk to me about your HAWKISH ways when you have your info straight.

Frankly, this is some kind of "feel good" story pumped out by a rightwing thinktank to fool credulous keyboard warriors into going along with Big Daddy WarBuck$ (i.e., the military- industrial complex) so that obscenely wealthy conservatives can make more even more money off our dead troops. Pardon me if I don't fall for sentimental crap like this.

I'm all for honoring the troops, including Viet Nam vets. I assist with Stand-Downs in my community where free assistance is given to Vets of various wars, who came back so broken that they are homeless. What have YOU done to help homeless vets lately? Yeah, thought so: not a damn blessed thing, except "feel good" when you read pablum like this.

And if you're so "into" honoring dead troops, then what did YOU do during the last 6+ years of the W Admin when the POTUS didn't allow the returning troop coffins to ever be shown?? And in fact, it was you conservatives who got your panties in a big old wad when one of the top three broadcasting stations (forget which one) spent some time early in the wars reading out the names of the dead.

And what the eff did you do to protect the troops that you claim to love & support so much? Did you donate any money to the funds available to assist our troops sent to Iraq with inadequately armored hummers and not enough kevlar vests? Yeah: didn't think so. Hippie DOVE that I am, I contributed as much as I could to those funds... bc you idiotic conservatives voted for your uber-wealthy overlords to get giant tax reductions, which resulted in the military initially not having enough equipment to adequately support the troops.

What a bunch of garbage. You conservatives sit in the safety of your gated communities and profess to be such big war hawks, and somehow that makes you so goddamn superior. Eff that. I'm sick unto death of your types professing your passion for war but doing eff all to really support the troops who get sent off like so much canon fodder to fight useless wars that are only started on lies to enrich the already wealthy.

Get a clue.

Yeah, this phoney story is a bunch of tawdry crap ginned up to make unthinking, unquestioning idiots like you "feel good," and allow you to "believe" that somehow you're doing something "important."

Grow up. Get a clue.

BAH!!!!!!

Snarla said...

The second anonymous post was me. I was in a hurry.
I'm a liberal and veteran, so figure that one out, Glenn Beck aficionados.
Plane captain calling attention to grieving military family: good. Cindy Sheehan calling attention to herself: bad. Did I get it right?
I'm learning, I'm learning.

John Galt said...

It is possible to be pro soldier and anti war.

Another Liberal Vet checking in

Anonymous said...

"When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands."

Wow the 'slow clap'. Just like in a 1980's Hollywood movie. Must have really happened I guess.

 
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