Tissue alert! You’re going to need them before you go any further.
Delta Flight 2255 began like any other. Passengers boarded the plane and safety announcements were made, but then Candy, a flight attendant, thanked the uniformed soldiers aboard the plane traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles. There was a round of applause and people settled in for their in-flight movie.
Roughly 45 minutes prior to landing, the captain announced that they had just transported a fallen soldier home and asked that everyone remain seated until the military escorts had de-planed. The aircraft went silent.
"It is a sworn oath to bring home, to the family, the fallen" a military escort addressed the plane. "Today you all did that, you are all escorts, escorts of the heart."
Los Angeles firemen greeting the plane, no doubt an alarming sight for passengers in the airport, showered the aircraft in a water cannon salute, just as they do all their fallen soldiers, before passengers exited the aircraft.
Upon entering the airport terminal, Johnny Jet recounts the scene inside:
There was a large number of passengers, who are normally in a hurry to get home or make a connection, standing by the window to witness something truly moving. To see the Honor Guard and family waiting patiently, while LAX baggage handlers and a military loadmaster removed the flag covered casket first from the cargo hold, was humbling to say the least. I’m not sure if it was the fallen soldier’s mother or wife who I watched slowly walk up to the coffin while a few other family members, wrapped in blankets, stood near with a dozen or so of the Honor Guards standing in salute.
As soon as I saw her reach out to put her hand on her baby’s casket, I walked away.
This ordinary flight became extraordinary and is one that I will never forget.
Thank you to the Servicemen and women who give their lives every day to protect our nation.