"I BELIEVE IN PINK! I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."— Audrey Hepburn

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every night, friends. You have done what you could. Let it go.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, December 4, 2010

God Bless Us Every One

 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 .
 '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..'


& Stay Pink!

1 comment:

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