It was in the morning that I got word that I may be needed to conduct a special project. This of course sparked my interest and once I dug a little I quickly learned how special it was.
Eight KIA service members were arriving and the Marine Corps needed an escort to receive the warriors and transport the warriors officially as required. To stay general, I drove for about 2 hours to the airfield they were coming into. As we waited for the aircraft to arrive, numerous Honor Guard teams practiced and rehearsed their scheme of maneuver. The Air Force team arrived after the Marines and Army Honor Guard and began to rehearse. All were ready as they had done this many times as recent as last week but only to be out done in numbers last month where they had to escort 25 Hero’s home. I wasn’t nervous but honored to be the first one to help the warriors as they touch
soil for the first time.
As I came to the section of the aircraft where the coffins were at, it caught me by surprise to see the perfect flag draped coffins lined up. The first order of business was to inspect the flags for any stains, tears or defects that may taint them. Great care and respect was employed to ensure the very best attention and handing was used with the warriors. Because at least one of the families was on site to receive the remains the Honor Guards moved into place and professionally and accurately carried the remains to the designated vehicle. Once they were in place and the individual family members departed, the Honor Guards returned onto the aircraft to pick up the coffins we had positioned. They all took great care and used gentle handling of each coffin. I was very impressed with the care and respect displayed as the Army EOD technician, US Marine and fellow warriors were carried off the plan. Once the last of the remains were loaded, a final salute was given before we departed and drove back. As we left, I thought of how this event somewhat completes the circle of my deployments. It was an honor to be their escort.