Browsing Tag: Fallen Soldier

Police and emergency services line up to show respect to the fallen soldier. Photo: David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com

Police and emergency services line up to show respect to the fallen soldier at LAX on an Alaska Airlines flight in January of 2014  – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

Excerpt from NYCAviation is written by Eric “Cap’n Aux” Auxier, who is an airline pilot by day, writer by night, and kid by choice. An A320 captain for a major U.S. airline, he is also a freelance writer, novelist, and blogger (capnaux.com).

I recently experienced one of the greatest and most heart-rending honors a modern airline pilot can have: Captaining a flight that is transporting a fallen soldier to his final resting place.

Escorting the hero was a military honor guard consisting of two of the soldier’s comrades, and two young Marines. Also onboard were the man’s father and a lovely, devastated young woman -girlfriend? Wife? Sister? I never found out. I never learned the soldier’s name, either. Or his rank. Or how or where he died.

But it didn’t matter. Because, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he was ours. He was us.

Coming on the heels, as it was, of the Aurora movie theatre tragedy, this flight was particularly poignant for all passengers and crew as well.

As soon as our preflight duties were finished, I ordered the gate agents to allow the party onboard. They were escorted down to the ramp, where they presided over a short ceremony as the casket was loaded into the forward cargo hold. Simple, precise, and crisp, the military detail saluted the casket then made a sharp about face to march away, reminding me of the Missing Man Formation often flown by jet fighters.

For six hours as we crossed the country, I contemplated my speech. As Captain of the flight, I was expected to say a few words upon arrival. At Top of Descent, I took a deep breath and keyed the PA:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. I’d like you to pay special attention to this announcement. (pause) Today we have the great, great honor of escorting one of our fallen soldiers to his final resting place.

Continue reading Memorial Day: Flying a Fallen Hero on NYCAviation.com

The LAX fire department gives our flight with a fallen soldier a water cannon  salute. Photo: David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com

The LAX Fire Department gives our flight with a fallen soldier a water cannon salute – Photo: David Parker Brown | Airline Reporter

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.