The thought of a fallen soldier coming home to their family is not easy, but a reality of the world that we live in. I have previously taken a look at how Alaska Airlines professionally handles when they are transporting a fallen soldier, but recently I got to view first-hand not only how the airline, but also Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), treats heroes with the respect they deserve.
On January 15th, I was on a flight from my home town of Seattle (SEA) to LAX and everything went just like normal, until we landed at LAX. A flight attendant made an announcement that there was a soldier who had died for our country on-board, and asked if everyone could please remain seated when we arrived at the gate to allow the military escort to leave the aircraft first. As we taxied, passengers on the plane clapped in support and to show their respect — it was pretty amazing.
Every fallen soldier is given a military escort until they arrive at their destination, to ensure that nothing goes wrong and that the soldier to given the proper respects. But not all airlines and airports operate the same way when handling such a delicate scenario.
Neither Alaska Airlines nor LAX seek to put much media attention on how they treat a fallen soldier, and I just happened to be on a flight with one. It was impactful to see the extra steps and the heavy respect offered for such a tragic situation.
Before we arrived to our gate, our Boeing 737 was given a water cannon salute, which I have only experienced on an inaugural or delivery flight. When we pulled up to the gate, there were layers of emergency vehicles, with their lights on, and multiple groups of emergency services personal in their dress blues. There was even a bagpipe player.
I was told by an LAX spokesperson that their Airport Honor Guard does this for each fallen soldier who returns via the airport. Also, other law enforcement officers (TSA, Customs & Border Protection, FBI, etc.) will come to pay their respects. At times, a military branch will bring their own honor guard as well. No matter what, each soldier arriving is treated like a hero.
I felt very honored that I was able to witness the respect and skill that Alaska and LAX give to fallen soldiers. Huge cheers to them for doing the right thing.