Posts Tagged ‘honor’

Memorial Day – a tribute to our military

July 9, 2011

He was getting old and paunchy
and his hair was falling fast,
and he sat around the Legion,
telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
and the deeds that he had done,
in his exploits with his buddies;
they were heroes, every one.

And though sometimes to his neighbors
his tales became a joke,
all his buddies listened quietly
for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
for old Bob has passed away,
and the world’s a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
going quietly on his way;
and the world won’t note his passing,
though a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
their bodies lie in state,
while thousands note their passing,
and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
from the time that they were young
but the passing of a Soldier
goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
to the welfare of our land,
someone who breaks his promise
and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
who in times of war and strife,
goes off to serve his country
and offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend
and the style in which he lives,
are often disproportionate,
to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
who offered up his all,
is paid off with a medal
and perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
with their compromise and ploys,
who won for us the freedom
that our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
with your enemies at hand,
would you really want some cop-out,
with his ever-waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier–
his home, his country, his kin,
just a common Soldier,
who would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier,
and his ranks are growing thin,
but his presence should remind us
we may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
we find the Soldier’s part
is to clean up all the troubles
that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
while he’s here to hear the praise,
then at least let’s give him homage
at the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
in the paper that might say:
“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY.”

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Message from the Military to Obama

August 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Obama,

Thank you for not going to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. There is something very sacred about that place and about that day.

Those who bled and died for this country deserve to be honored and saluted by people who love their country and honor their sacrifice.

You don’t belong there.

Thank you for realizing that and going to Chicago.

Craig P. Jacobi, Col, USA, (Ret)
McLean, VA

Long Flight Home – an inspirational story

February 16, 2010

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’ve 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 on his own.

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’, he said.  He 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 attendant’s voice when he asked me if there was anything I could do…

‘I’m on it’, I said. I told him that I would get back to him. 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 this 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 Veteran I can only think of all the veterans including the ones that rode below the deck on their way home and how they we 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 give them the respect they so deserve.

I know every veteran who reads this will have tears in their eyes — including me.


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