MAYGOD BLESS THIS AIRLINE CAPTAIN:
>He writes: My lead
>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 . Youcan board
> himearly," I said..
> Ashort while later, a young army sergeant entered theflight deck.
> He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier.He introduced
> himself andI asked him about hissoldier.The escorts of these fallen
> soldiers talk aboutthem as if they arestill alive and still with us.
> 'Mysoldier is on his way back toVirginia,' he said. Heproceeded
> to answer my questions, but offered no words.
> I asked him if there was anything I could do for him andhe saidno.
> I told him that he had the toughest job inthemilitary and that I
> appreciated the work that he does for thefamilies of our
> fallensoldiers. Thefirst officerand I got upout of our seats to
> shake his hand. He left the flight deckto find his seat.
> We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed
> anuneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight Ireceived
> a call from thelead 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 methat thefather, mother, wife and 2-year
> old daughterwere escorting their son, husband, and father home.The
> family was upset because they wereunable to see the container that
> the soldier wasin 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 andthe family to bear. He had asked the
> flightattendant 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 thesoldierbeing taken off the airplane.. I could
> hear the desperation in theflight attendantsvoice when she asked me
> if there was anything Icould do.. 'I'm on it', I said. I told her
> that I would get backto her.
> Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of
> e-mail like messages. I decided tobypass this system andcontact my
> flight dispatcherdirectly on a secondary radio. Thereis 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 heunderstood and that he
> would get back to me.
> Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. Wewere
> going to get busy soon and I needed toknow what to tell thefamily. I
> sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return
> message from the dispatcher and the following isthetext:
> 'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is
> policy onthis now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your
> arrival a dedicated escort team willmeet 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 are
> veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'
> I sent a message back tellingflight control thanksfor a good job.
> I printed out the message and gaveit to the leadflight attendantto
> pass on to thefather. The lead flight attendant was verythankful
> and told me, 'Youhave 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 twoforward flight attendantscrying, 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 aViet 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 soldiersreturning from the various war
> zones today and givethem the respect they sodeserve.
> 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.. Prayer for our soldiers
> Don't break it!
> '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. 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!!! came to me andsaid, "We have an
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