An Honor to Say Goodbye

(Dave – Thank You.

Boston.com has picked up on this poignant story.

See the image here. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

There have been a lot of things that I was thinking about writing the first time about my deployment.  This is something I didn’t think I would see, and I wanted to convey it.

As you wake up this morning you will be reading about an incident that happened early this morning here in Afghanistan, not far from where I leave.  I won’t get into any details on that.  You’ll likely get those in the news.  Suffice it to say, I heard it.  It shook my front door.  It was five miles away.  But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.

Several of the soldiers were wounded.  One of the soldiers lost his fight.

This afternoon, I had the honor of sending him and another soldier home to his family.   It’s called a ramp ceremony.  I live and work at Kandahar Air Field.  It is the point at which most soldiers enter and leave the southern district.  When a soldier pays the ultimate price, we get notified, and we all gather on the ramp to send him or her home.  Today was no exception.

When I arrived at the entrance to the airfield, hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen gathered to say farewell.  They were not just Americans, but Australians, Canadians, British, Poles, Italians, Slovakians, Romanians, and Dutch.  See they are all here helping to bring freedom to the Afghanis.  We live, and fight side by side.  It’s a brotherhood.  I heard one Brit say “Are we sending one of your boys off today” to a soldier.  It was a solemn event.  There were many, but I’ve seen less people turn out here for celebrities.  This is one of their family and we are all there to honor them.

On the airfield all the units line up and march up to the rear of the aircraft.  This time it was a C-17.  Picture a plane the size of a 727 to carry two souls home.  The formations stretch out facing each other forming two columns with a corridor in the center.  Some of the fallen Soldiers comrades sit in wheelchairs near the airplane to say goodbye.  A few words are spoken by members of the Chaplin corps.  One of the soldiers goes unnamed, the other does not.  Out of respect I will not tell you who they were but one left a pregnant wife and two children back home.  I ask that you pray for them.

The National Colors are brought down the corridor, and salutes are rendered, then the two honorable men who gave all they could give are carried by members of services from the United States in flag draped aluminum caskets.  As they make their way through the formation Amazing Grace and Taps are played, the men drop their salutes, and the ramp of the plane slowly closes.  The flight crew carefully secures the vessels in the body of the plane.  This is an honor for all of them.  The flight crew doesn’t know when they will be required to do this.  The plane is removed from rotation immediately when someone needs to be carried.  We don’t waste any time sending our sons and daughters home for the last time.

It is a powerful statement to see hundreds of people who serve their nations standing on the hot sunny tarmac, rendering honors for someone they probably have never met, and will never get the chance to meet.  I want to thank these people, and thank the families of the fallen for allowing their loved ones to help in our endeavors here.  Your sacrifice for the country will not be forgotten by the many that were there.  We would like you to know that they will have a revered trip home that would be worthy of a President of the United States.

I wrote and posted this on InBrockton.com yesterday, I wanted to share it with you guys also.

I would also like to ask if you could help out a friend of mine who is raising money for the troops through Run To Home Base

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