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Honor and Respect

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Larryh86GT

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This may mist you up. It did me. I received it though a veterans group I am part of:

Honor and Respect
MAY GOD BLESS THIS 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.

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 an d 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. 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 soldiers returning from the various war zones today and giving them the respect they so deserve.

I know everyone who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.

Prayer for our Military:

'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.. 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. 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!!!
 
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Amen Larry.

people have to remember that there are many terrorist that want this country to burn. It is the military that do the difficult job of protecting our country through their efforts on foreign soil, without them, terrorists would be likely to strike again here.

There have been attempts here lately that could have also been deadly. I would like to add that everyone should thank the people in this country that have risked thier lives to protect us. I can only imagine how crazy it is being bomb squad in NYC in these times.
 

ffemt128

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I say a little prayer every day for our service men and women. I have 2 sons in the military, one of which is over in Afghanistan now.

God bless our troops...
 

ohbeary

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As a former Royal Marine I salute you Larry, thankyou.
My eldest is in the Royal Navy and I pray that he is safe.
 
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myakkagldwngr

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A great story, thanks for posting it.
And yes, it did put tears in my eyes.
I've done 2 Patriot Guard rides and you would be surprised to see a leather tough biker with tears in his eyes.
The fighting men and women of all the FREE countries working hard and sacraficing to keep us FREE deserve all the respect the world can give them.
God Bless them all.
 

Lurker

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Amen, It's good we honor our fallen soldiers.
 

ohbeary

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Now nothin personal! just a question, dieing with "the most toys"!, are we talking "pyrrhic victory"?, OK y' tooled up, got all the gizmo's and y' go dead!!, what was that about?, did you do anything with your life?, did you help anyone?, did you make a difference?, now just making money and giving people jobs is not really that much of a thing, did you make things better?, did you improve the lives of your employee's?....................
 

Runningwolf

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Now nothin personal! just a question, dieing with "the most toys"!, are we talking "pyrrhic victory"?, OK y' tooled up, got all the gizmo's and y' go dead!!, what was that about?, did you do anything with your life?, did you help anyone?, did you make a difference?, now just making money and giving people jobs is not really that much of a thing, did you make things better?, did you improve the lives of your employee's?....................
Well said bear!
 

pwrose

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First let me say that I am not looking for any kind of thank you and I am not tooting my own horn, but I have a small story to tell that goes to show how much even our own military service member are under appreciated by our government.
I also want to say thank you for posting the story, sometimes it is hard to beleive that things like that actually happen and are not just made up.
My Story /// My version of BlackHawk Down

During 1993 in Somilia, other than the Marines that made CNN while they were landing trying to take control of the sea port, there were others than went without the publicity.
We were some of the first units to arrive in country and also some of the last bodies to leave. While we were there our mission was to make sure roads stayed clear and security. I was in a combat engineering unit, so we had all the dozers and road clearing equipment that was in country. Somewhere around 3 days before the Delta Force and Special Forces guys went in to take Addid we were tasked to clear roads between the University Compound and The Stadium. On the way to The Stadium we encountered some small arms fire, this was nothing unusual except it was comming from an unidentified hostil area. In other words somewhere it shouldn't have been comming from, or somewhere it was unexpected. Things started to get a little hairy when a somili decided to toss a homemade gernade (wooden box filled with gun powder and nuts and bolts with a fuse) in the back of the duece and half that we had turned into a gun ship. Everyone bailed out the gernade never went off and the Sargent that was closest to the truck jumped back in and threw it out. As he was helping everyone back in a RPG went off under the truck placing shrapnel (spelling) in about 3/4 of another sargents legs. We were able to get him back in the truck and continued on towards The Stadium. Just before arriving at The Stadium our 60 gunner had a jam and while clearing it was shot just below shoulder joint, missing all bones and going clean through the shoulder (the bullet went through just above the arm pit but below the joint). We finally made it into the saftey of the stadium, and the two injured personnel were air lifted out to the airport and futher to Germany. There were a total of 9 personnel in that truck that day and 10 vehicles in the convoy. Now awards don't make a whole lot of anything to anyone that is not in a uniform and trying to get promoted. But there are some awards that even civilian people know, Metal of Honor, Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and things like that. Another one that really means something to a soldier is to have any award/medal that carries the silver "V" for Valor. Well the 7 other people that were in that truck that day were put in for "Army Accomodation Medals with Valor". The two injured personnel did receive purple hearts for thier injuries, but would you beleive that all other awards/medals were declined. We the people on that very mission got nothing more than a thank you from the two injured personnel, which for the ones that were there meant more that any medal, but our great military leaders thought nothing of us.
3 days after we cleared the road blocks the mission to retrieve Addid took place. To cut this story short as most of you have seen the movie, the convoy at the end of the movie was made up of several units and ours was one of them. That helo that went down was not down in the middle of the intersection but was about 75-100 yards down one of the side roads from that intersection.

Ok stepping down off the soap box,,,
I am glad as hell that some of our troops (all branches included) get the thank yous that they deserve, I just wish that our governement would notice it and stop putting all of us in harms way for nothing most of the time.

I spent 6 years in the Army and 1990-1996, and the remainder of my now 20 total years in the US Coast Guard. I will retire Feb 1 2011.

I salute the families that have lost a family member in the wars, crisis, and other combats that our nation has asked us to fight.
 

myakkagldwngr

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There have been and will be lots of behind the scenes things we never know about, and probably for the better.
I'm very grateful to all those who have and are serving. And in what branch, I could care less. They are all doing their part.

PW, I see you mentioned you are in the Coasties and about to retire. What part of Eastern NC? My daughter and SIL live in Elizabeth City. He's in the Coast Guard too.
 

pwrose

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I live about 20 mins from E.City, and grew up about 45 mins from there. I live just north of Edenton but work in Portsmouth, Va.

Catch me in a pm.
 
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