the last flight of a warrior
This story is refreshing and makes me proud to be an American once again. Via Blackfive and Ron over at Mountain Solitaire.
On board, 0600: "Good morning folks this is the Captain. This morning we have been attending to some additional duties and I apologize for being 10 minutes late for pushback but believe me we will be early to LAX. This morning it is my sad pleasure to announce that 1st LT Jared Landaker USMC will be flying with us to his Big Bear home in Southern California . Jared lost his life over the sky's of Iraq earlier this month and today we have the honor of returning him home along with his Mother, Father, Brother and uncles. Please join me in making the journey comfortable for the Landaker family and their uniformed escort. Now sit back and enjoy our ride, we are not expecting any turbulence until we reach the Rocky Mountains and at that time we will do what we can to ensure a smooth ride. For those interested you can listen in to our progress on button 9."
Up button 9: "Good morning UA 211 you are cleared to taxi, takeoff and cleared to LAX as filed." From the time we started rolling we never stopped. 1st LT Landaker began receiving his due.
4 hours and 35 minutes later over Big Bear MT, the AB320 makes a left roll and steep bank and then one to the right. Nice touch CAPTAIN. Five minutes out from landing, the Captain, "Ladies and Gents after landing I'm leaving the fasten seatbelt sign on and I ask everyone in advance to yield to the Landaker family. Please remain seated until all members have departed the aircraft. Thank you for your patience, we are 20 minutes early."
On roll out, I notice red lights, emergency vehicles everywhere. We are being escorted directly to our gate, no waiting anywhere, not even a pause. Out the left window, a dozen Marines in full dress blues. Highway Patrol, Police, Fire crews all in full dress with lights on. A true class act by everyone, down to a person from coast to coast. Way to go United Airlines for doing the little things RIGHT, because they are the big things; Air Traffic Control for getting the message, to all law enforcement for your display of brotherhood.
When the family departed the aircraft everyone sat silent, then I heard a lady say, "God Bless You and your Family, Thank You." Then another, then another, then a somber round of applause. The Captain read a prepared note from Mrs. Landaker to the effect, "Thank you all for your patience and heartfelt concern for us and our son. We sincerely appreciate the sentiment. It is nice to have Jared home."
February 7, 2007, Anbar Province , Iraq . 1st LT Jared Landaker United States Marine Corps, Hero, from Big Bear California, gave his live in service to his country. Fatally wounded when his CH-46 helicopter was shot down by enemy fire, Jared and his crew all perished. His life was the ultimate sacrifice of a grateful military family and nation. His death occurred at the same time as Anna Nicole Smith, a drug using person with a 7th grade education of no pedigree who dominated our news for two weeks while Jared became a number on CNN. And most unfortunately, Jared's death underscores a fact that we are a military at war, not a nation at war. Until we become a nation committed to winning the fight, and elect leaders with the spine to ask Americans to sacrifice in order to win, we shall remain committed to being a nation with a military at war, and nothing more.