💢 This is one of those stories that reminds use there are patriots out there. Story copied from email forwarded to me, author unknown, 💢
“The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it…..
The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died serving it.”
AIRLINE CAPTAIN – You will not regret reading this one. I Promise
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.Y
es’, she said.
‘Is there an escort?’ I asked.
‘Yes, I’ve 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.
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 also on
board’, she said. She 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
I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked
me if there was anything I could do. ‘I’m on it’, I said. I told her that I
would get back to her. 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 ame
is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX s
under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant
XXXXXX. 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.
They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor and respect.
When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our
troops around the world… There is nothing attached. Just send this to
people in your address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts
you could give a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and others deployed in
harm’s way, prayer is the very best one.
GOD BLESS YOU!!!