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 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. 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 .
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
(Petty Officer, Second Class)
EOD2 The Sailor Pictured Below Is,
Navy Petty Officer,
(Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Second Class)
April 5th, 1981 ~ September 29th, 2009
Was Awarded "The Congressional Medal Of Honor" Last Week,
For Giving His Life In Iraq , As He Jumped On, And Covered With His Body, A Live Hand Grenade,
Saving The Lives Of A Large Group Of Navy Seals That Was Passing By!
During Mike Monsoor's Funeral,
At Ft . Rosecrans National Cemetery , In San Diego , California .
The Six Pallbearers Removed The Rosewood Casket From The Hearse.
Lined Up On Each Side Of Mike Monsoor's Casket,
Were His Family Members, Friends, Fellow Sailors, And Well-wishers .
The Column Of People Continued From The Hearse, All The Way To The Grave Site ..
What The Group Didn't Know At The Time Was,
Every Navy Seal
(45 To Be Exact)
That Mike Monsoor Saved That Day Was Scattered Through-Out The Column!
As The Pallbearers Carried The Rosewood Casket
Down The Column Of People To The Grave Side .
The Column Would Collapse . ..
Which Formed A Group Of People That Followed Behind .
Every Time The Rosewood Casket Passed A Navy Seal,
He Would Remove His Gold Trident Pin From His Uniform,
And Slap It Down Hard,
Causing The Gold Trident Pin To Embed Itself
Into The Top Of The Wooden Casket!
Then The Navy Seal Would Step Back From The Column, And Salute!
Now For Those,
Who Don't Know What A Trident Pin Is,
Here Is The Definition!
After One Completes The Basic Navy Seals Program Which Lasts For Three Weeks,
And Is Followed By Seal Qualification Training,
Which Is 15 More Weeks Of Training,
Necessary To Continue Improving Basic Skills And To Learn New Tactics And Techniques,
Required For An Assignment To A Navy Seal Platoon .
After successful completion,
Trainees Are Given Their Naval Enlisted Code,
And Are Awarded The Navy Seal Trident Pin .
With This Gold Pin They Are Now Officially Navy Seals!
It Was Said,
That You Could Hear Each Of The 45 Slaps From Across The Cemetery!
By The Time The Rosewood Casket Reached The Grave Site,
It Looked As Though It Had A Gold Inlay From The 45 Trident Pins That Lined The Top!
This Was A Fitting End To An Eternal Send-Off For A Warrior Hero!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
This weeks Featured Artisan is Lori - Curiositiy's Piqued. Lori creates
baby items, purses, bags, household items and Christmas ornaments that I crochet, sew and craft by hand. She also has another shop called Tadasana Tribal. You can find Curiositiy's Piqued on:
Saturday, May 7, 2011
I lost my mom three years ago this past January to a massive heart attack. My mom wanted so badly to make it to her 80th birthday which she did in December 2007. I received a call from my dad on January 11, 2008 at around 6am. I could hear the terror in his voice when he told me that he thought that my mom was dead. I don't even remember getting dressed or even driving to their house. I ran into their house, my dad visibly upset and told me that my mom was in the bathroom. I'm not going to tell you where I found her because I don't want to embarrass her. All I remember is picking her up and putting her on the floor. I have no idea where I got the strength from. I knew that she was gone when I saw her but my police instincts, for lack of better words, and being that this was my mom, I had to do something. Her upper body wasn't cold but cool to the touch so of course I had to start CPR. Now I know that any reasonable person would have not tried this but I wasn't thinking rationally at this point. With the first compression I felt her ribs "pop" but I kept trying. My dad came in and told me that she was gone. I told him "I know but I have to do something". Now my husband had called 911 when I was on my way to my parents home so they didn't take to long to get there. They came in and, getting out of their way, let them check over my mom. They called the coroner to pronounce her passing. They said that she had been gone a couple of hours. This is the last memory I have of my mom. By this time, the rest of my family showed up at the house. My nephew saw the look on my face and he grabbed me and held me while I cried on his shoulder. We had the viewing the next day. I had made her a cross necklace the Christmas just before. Oh how she loved crosses and she loved this one. So I placed this necklace on my mom and had it cremated with her. She is in an urn that I bought for her at my father's apartment (he moved right after she died) next to the urn I bought for my dad. I got them at an antique shop. So this will be the third Mother's Day without my mom but it still feels like the very first year. I miss her so much. We were like best friends. I could tell her anything and she never judged me. I don't have anyone that I have this type of a relationship with. I probably never will. I could tell her my deepest secrets. I wish that I would wake up one day and she would be alive again. I still to this day want to call, or go see her in person, to tell her my accomplishments. I know she knows but it's just not the same. I Love you Mom and I miss you terribly. So cherish the time you have with your mom and treat her to something special this weekend. You never know when it will be the last Mother's Day you will have with your mom. So if you and your mom don't see eye to eye on everything, overlook it. Mend fences if you aren't close. Be the better person and give in to the argument you just had. Spend tomorrow with your mom. Like I already said, and God forbid, it could be the last one you might have.
Here is a picture of my mom and dad on their wedding day, October 24, 1949.
Again, I LOVE YOU MOM. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
Here is a picture of my mom and dad on their wedding day, October 24, 1949.
Again, I LOVE YOU MOM. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!