Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fallen Soldier Redux

I continue to receive comments on my post, "FALLEN SOLDIER" One comment deserves attention. It was written by a member of the company honor guard. FlyGuy was humbled to tears when I read this individuals' comment. I wish I could shake the hands and look into the eyes of every one of these men and women, who give so much of themselves, to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. The following comment has not been changed in any way. God Bless you all.

"Great story Fly Guy, however we are the XXXXX Air Lines Honor Guard. We have worked with the patriot riders on a few escorts.
We honor all those who serve in the military in any branch and in any capacity, we have honored those who have been MIA for over 65 years from WWII to a young man who passed away his last day of boot camp. I have personally never served a day in my life. I am honored to be surrounded by many agents who have served and few who have not but are just as dedicated. Some have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Viet Nam, Two have lost family, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

These people are dedicated and have no problem rendering honors in the rain, cold, wind and blistering heat on the ramp. I have people show up on their days off, before work, after work and even on vacation to help. This group is all volunteer, no extra pay or benefits no extra days off just the satisfaction that they have honored a person who has committed their lives to protecting ours and our great way of life. One thing I do not think most people realize is many times the escorts are themselves related to the service members. A few recent ones I will never forget.

An Air Force pilot that was shot down in Viet Nam in 1968 and finally recovered and identified was traveling through ATL on his way to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. We went to render honors, and I went upstairs to get the escort, he had elderly woman with him and asked if she could come down as well, I agreed and we went down and preformed honors and when I gave him the card and coin to give to the next of kin he referred me to this small frail woman, she was the pilots wife. She is 81 years old and had been waiting 41 years for him to come home, she was in awe that a group of total strangers would take the time to honor a man none of us knew. She personally thanked everyone and then the Air Force escort pointed to his wrist, there on his wrist was an MIA/POW bracelet for this pilot he had been wearing for the last 17 years...

I had an escort come off a flight, a Command Sergeant Major, 30 years in the U.S. Army, a man to be both respected and feared. The honor guard had finished rendering honors on the remains he was escorting, an 18 year old “girl” who was killed in Afghanistan, I was getting ready to take the escort upstairs to board the flight when he asked me If I had any children, and if any were serving in the military, I told him “yes” I have three sons and my oldest was deployed in Afghanistan. He was trembling and asked that I give my boys a hug and next time I talked to my son in Afghanistan to let him know how much I loved him “because you never know.” The “girl” he was escorting was his daughter...

On April 24th we had an escort come off the flight from HNL and then connecting on to DFW I had done some research and had found out the remains were that of SSgt XXXXX of the United States Army Air Force, shot down in his B-24 in September of 1944. Normally if the remains is army the escort is army and so on. SSgt XXXXX escort was a United States Marine. This gentleman would not leave the remains for a second and was absolutely dedicated to watching over his ward. After rendering honors on SSgt XXXXX the escort asked if he could address the honor guard. At this point Captain XXXXX, USMC wanted to thank us and everyone at Delta Air Lines for the manner in we transported and the homecoming of SSgt XXXXX, his grandfather whom he had never met...

On October 8, 2008 my eldest son Sr. Airman Brian J McConnell Jr. USAF escorted the remains of my father MSgt Angus J. McConnell {USAF retired} through Atlanta. I was filled with many emotions that day, sadness for the loss of my dad and over whelming love and pride for my son and his commitment to honor his grandfather and get him home. I will forever be grateful to my Delta family for the respect and honor shown to my family and myself. Thank You All..."

Be Safe,



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for a wonderful blog, and for sharing all these stories with us! Keep writing!

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a product of WW2, my dad met my mom when he was in Europe in 1946. All in all 160m people died last century in wars. As my son says: wars are necessary and I suppose if I was 19 I would say the same. I just wonder if he will always think this way because the tears come easily to me when I think of all the grief. All 160m souls who died.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Lame-R said...

thanks for making my eyes leak

9:51 AM  

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