Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Must Read Email


This is a email I recieved from Roger Helbig at theveteran2@yahoogroups.com





From: Robert P. Walsh
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2007 9:35 AM
To: Mike Bird , Col Dan
Subject: FW: From a pilot on his trip back home ...

We do not have bad news coverage in this country. We have NO news coverage
in this country.

Bob Walsh

From a pilot on his trip back home ...

February 17, 2007,
0350

I was at curbside at 24th and M, Washington DC. 16 Degrees with a light
breeze. Going west after my second week of freezing temps to my warm home in
SoCal. Take a walk on the beach, ride a horse, climb a mountain and get back
to living. I'm tired of the cold.

0425

paying the taxi fare at Dulles in front of the United Airlines counter,
still cold.

0450

engaged the self-serve ticket machine and it delivers my ticket, baggage tag
and boarding pass. Hmmm, that Marine over there is all dressed up in his
dress blues a bit early this morning... "Good Morning Captain, you're
looking sharp." He says, "Thank you, sir."

Pass security and to my gate for a decaf coffee and 5 hours sleep. A quick
check of the flight status monitor and UA Flt 211 is on time. I'm up front,
so how bad can that be? Hmmm, there's that same Marine. He must be heading
to Pendleton to see his lady at LAX for the long weekend, all dressed up
like that. Or maybe not. I dunno.

The speaker system announces "Attention in the boarding area, we'll begin
boarding in 10 minutes, we have some additional duties to attend to this
morning, but we'll have you out of here on time."

The Marine Captain has now been joined by five others. BINGO, I get it,
he's not visiting his lady, he's an official escort. I remember doing that
once, CACO duty. I still remember the names of the victim and family, the
Bruno Family in Mojave - all of them. Wow, that was 24 years ago.

On board, 0600:

"Good morning folks, this is the Captain. This morning we've been
attending to some additional duties, and I apologize for being 10 minutes
late for push back, but I believe we'll be early into 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 skies of Iraq earlier this month, and today we have the honor
of returning him home along with his mother, father and brother . Please
join me in making the journey comfortable for the Landaker family and their
uniformed escort. Now sit back and enjoy your ride. We're not expecting
any turbulence until we reach the Rocky Mountain area, but we'll do what we
can to ensure a smooth ride. For those interested, you can listen in to our
progress on Channel 9."

Click Channel 9: "Good morning UA 211. You are cleared to taxi, takeoff
and cleared to LAX as filed."

4 hours and 35 minutes later over Big Bear, CA, the AB320 makes a left roll,
a steep bank and then one to the right. Nice touch. Nice tribute. Five
minutes out from landing, the Captain comes on the speaker: "Ladies and
Gentlemen, after landing I'm leaving the fasten seatbelt sign on, and I ask
everyone to please yield to the Landaker family. Please remain seated until
all members of the family have departed the aircraft. Thank you for your
patience. We are 20 minutes early."

On roll out, I notice red lights, emergency vehicles approaching. We're
being escorted directly to our gate, no waiting, not even a pause. Out the
left window, a dozen Marines in full dress blues. A true class act by
everyone, down to a person. Way to go United Airlines for doing things
RIGHT, Air Traffic Control for getting the message, and to all security
personnel 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, and thank you." 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's good to have Jared
home."

After departing the aircraft I found myself along with 30 others from our
flight looking out the lobby window back at the plane. Not a dry eye. It was
one of the most emotional moments I've ever experienced. We all stood there
silently, and watched as Jared was taken by his honor guard to an awaiting
hearse. Then the motorcade slowly made it's way off the ramp.

I realized I had finally seen the silent majority. It is deep within us
all. Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red, Purple, we're all children, parents,
brothers, sisters, etc - we are an American family.

Official Report: February 7, 2007, Anbar Province, Iraq .. 1st LT Jared
Landaker United States Marine Corps, 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.

It has been said that Marines are at war - America is at the mall.

1st LT Landaker, a man I came to know in the sky's over America on 17
February 2007, from me to you, aviator to aviator, I am unbelievably
humbled. It was my high honor to share your last flight. God bless you.
_____