Sunday, 11 September 2011

The end of summer approaches

As autumn starts to show with the leaves turning and the winds getting colder I have turned to my knitting again I have made dead fish hats (Ravelry) and mitts for the grandsons they were a great hit .

where have I been

Fallen Soldier
Subject: Fwd: FW: Respect and Appreciation (UNCLASSIFIED)
This Airline Pilot 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 himearly," I saidA short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. Hewas the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himselfand I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldierstalk 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 toanswer my questions, but offered no words.I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. Itold him that he had the toughest job in the military and that Iappreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallensoldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake hishand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed anuneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a callfrom the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out thefamily of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said She thenproceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year olddaughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The familywas upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldierwas in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which thefamily was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home toVirginia ..The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his sonwas below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him wastoo much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flightattendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to seehim upon our arrival.The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldierbeing taken off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in theflight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I coulddo. '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 ofe-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact myflight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio There is a radiooperator in the operations control center who connects you to thetelephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with thedispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family andwhat 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 goingto get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent atext message asking for an update. I saved the return message from thedispatcher and the following is the text:'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policyon this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival adedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort thefamily to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load theremains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken totheir departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remainscan be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. Whenthe connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto theramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leghome.Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass ourcondolences on to the family. Thanks.'I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. Iprinted out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to passon to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and toldme, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. Afterlanding, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp ishuge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busyarea with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. Whenwe entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we weretold that all traffic was being held for us.'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft, we were told. It lookedlike it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned theseat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the familyfrom getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked thecopilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of thegate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the rampcontroller said, 'Take your time.'I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the publicaddress button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captainspeaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a specialannouncement.We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. HisName is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. PrivateXXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is ArmySergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, anddaughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remainin their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thankyou.'We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started ourshutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpitdoor. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something youjust do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, everypassenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the familyto exit the aircraft.When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowlystarted to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in andsoon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', 'I'msorry', 'thank you', 'be proud', and other kind words were uttered tothe family as they made their way down the aisle and out of theairplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with theirloved one.Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement Ihad made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over andover again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and thesacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure ourfreedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA ...Foot note:I know everyone who has served his/her country and/or loves this countrywill have tears in his/her eyes; I do.Consider this a prayer chain for our Military.... please don't break it!Don't break it! They die for me and mine, you and yours, and deserve ourhonor and respect.Prayer:'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as theyprotect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts theyperform for us in our time of need. Amen.'Prayer Request:There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your addressbook. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give aMarine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & others deployed in harm's way, prayeris the very best one.GOD BLESS YOU!!!Classification: UNCLASSIFIEDCaveats: FOUO