Custom Search

Friday, April 06, 2007

Fallen Soldiers Bodies as Airline Baggage

Fighting for your country at the request of your President and Commander in Chief is an honor for all of our armed services members. Wearing the uniform of the United States of America and its military means serving our nation in battles in lands far away from home and is what they volunteered for. As a soldier or sailor you wear that uniform with dignity and ultimate respect knowing that you and that uniform are representing the American people, your family back home, your neighbors, and your state.

Some of these patriots of America don’t survive the battles or circumstances that our citizen run government places them in. They followed the orders given to them and in giving the ultimate sacrifice, being killed in action; our nation should treat their bodies coming home to their families left behind with ultimate respect and honor. That respect was not the case prior to January of this year according to the Houston Chronicle.

April 6, 2007, 3:56PM
Grieving dad changes how military brings bodies home

Associated Press - Houston Chronicle

In an about-face by the U.S. government four years into the war in Iraq, America's fallen troops are being brought back to their families aboard charter jets instead of ordinary commercial flights, and the caskets are being met by honor guards in white gloves instead of baggage handlers with forklifts.

That change — which took effect quietly in January and applies to members of the U.S. military killed in Afghanistan, too — came after a campaign waged by a father who was aghast to learn that his son's body was going to be unloaded like so much luggage.

John Holley said an airline executive told him that was the "most expeditious" way to get the body home.

"I said, 'That's not going to happen with my son. That's not how my son is coming home,'" said Holley, an Army veteran from San Diego whose son, Spc. Matthew Holley, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. "If it was 'expeditious' to deliver them in garbage trucks, would you do that?"


Some were met by smartly uniformed military honor guards. But in other cases, the flag-draped caskets were unceremoniously taken off the plane by ordinary ground crew members and handed over to the family at a warehouse in a cargo area.

Now, the military is flying the dead into smaller regional airports closer to their hometowns, so that they can be met by their families and, in some cases, receive community tributes. And the caskets are being borne from the plane by an honor guard.

Last year, the U.S. military spent about $1.2 million to bring home the dead on commercial flights. Switching to charter flights will cost far more: The six-month Kalitta contract is worth up to $11 million.

"It's so much more dignified, so much more a respectable way of getting them home," said Tom Bellisario, a Kalitta pilot who has flown more than 30 of the missions.

"It's definitely an honor for all of us," Bellisario said. "You figure the last time they saw that person they were alive. As soon as we pull the flag-draped casket into the doorway you hear the crying. You can sense it in the air."

John Holley said he believed his 21-year-old son deserved a more dignified return than the Pentagon was planning, and complained to his congressman, then-House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. He also got help from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

They made sure an honor guard from Holley's unit based at Fort Campbell, Ky., was sent to Lindbergh Field in San Diego for the arrival of the body. Holley said the ceremony was dignified and fitting. – Houston Chronicle

Simple actions like this by one father prove to me that one voice in a land full of bickering self righteous know it alls, I include myself, make a difference in the treatment of our fallen soldiers. I would like to extend a personal thank you to Mr. John Holley for having the courage of his convictions to make sure that not only his sons remains were dealt with respectfully but that those to follow would be treated accordingly.

Now we know why the Bush administration did not want photographs of our fallen soldiers coming home in the press. Those pictures of coffins off loaded by fork trucks at JFK, LAX, or Logan would have had him run out of office on the hypocrite express. Support the troops but to hell with the fallen soldiers? Rings a bell with Walter Reid and the survivors of this war but that is another GTL post from another day.

Knowing that billions of dollars fighting this current administrations war on terror is going into many of the special interest pockets of the friends of Bush and Cheney, I personally have no problem spending the money to respect our fallen military war dead. It is the least we can do for them and their families.

This issue is not of the right side of the aisle or the left. It is simply about doing the right thing for the men and woman that served their country and having paid the ultimate price for doing so and that has no place in political opinion. Let us do what is right and not have to look over our shoulders in shame for past actions.


Technorati Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home