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WhoDat!656 01-18-2012 06:07 PM

If you can read this without crying . . .
 
From: "Dianne Flick" <AIRLINE CAPTAIN

He writes: My lead flight attendant came to me and said,
"We have 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.

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',
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 the airplane..

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.
van will be used to load the remains with a
econdary 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 ro de 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 soldiers returning from the various war zones today
and give them the respect they so deserve. I know every one who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.

Prayer chain for our Military... Don't break it!

Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women.

Don't break it!

They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor and
respect.

Prayer:
'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they
protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. In the name of Jesus, Amen.'

Prayer Request: 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, &
others deployed in harm's way, prayer is the very best one.

GOD BLESS YOU!!

QBREES9 01-18-2012 07:26 PM

Great Post !

Mardigras9 01-19-2012 09:44 AM

Agreed, puts things in perpesctive on a board like this.

saintfan 01-19-2012 12:20 PM

Best...Post...Ever

SloMotion 01-19-2012 12:41 PM

............ it was the right thing to do .....................

Byubengal 01-22-2012 02:44 PM

As a former US Marine, I had the honor of doing several burial details. I can honestly say that of all the things I got to do while serving my country, there is none greater than being apart of sending off one of my fellow Marines.
To know that this young man gave the his life to protect me and my family, word can not express the gratitude he and his family is owed.
I pray daily for all our troops and their loved ones. May God Bless and keep his family.

SEMPER FI


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