It was an honor

By Nancy Black

Immediate respect. That is what I saw. Forget all the divisiveness around air travel and mask mandates happening in our world today. The moment the pilot told us of the situation, we all acted accordingly — with the utmost respect.

I flew to Annapolis this past weekend to visit my midshipman. After all the passengers boarded the flight, the pilot made an announcement over his radio. He explained our plane, which left from DFW Airport, was an Honor Flight.

Traveling with us were the remains of Private Rambo, a World War II veteran. Private Rambo’s body remained overseas and unidentified for more than 78 years! Through DNA testing, his remains were finally identified and brought home for a proper burial. Members of Private Rambo’s family were among the passengers.

The pilot directed us to look out our windows as we taxied to the runway. Fire trucks lined the sides of our plane and shot water cannons over the plane as we passed.

Once we arrived in Washington D.C., water cannons saluted the arrival of our flight again, this time with more than 20 fire trucks and emergency vehicles lining the runway.

The pilot again came over the loudspeakers. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll look out your windows, you’ll see the full military procession waiting to welcome Private Rambo home. Please allow the family to exit the plane first. My co-pilot and I will be joining them on the tarmac as Private Rambo’s remains are removed from the plane.”

My fellow passengers and I all sat in total silence as the family rose from their seats to retrieve their luggage and disembark. Then we all started to clap. A large round of applause filled the aircraft as they exited.

From my window, I could see the color guard and other soldiers waiting next to a special luggage truck designed to carry a casket. As we deplaned, all the people in the terminal were looking out the windows watching the procession on the tarmac. Private Rambo’s flag-draped coffin was removed from the plane as everyone involved stood at attention.

I am a proud military mom, but it frightens me every day knowing in the back of my mind that my son could someday see battle. Other military moms are not so lucky. Their sons and daughters are seeing battles. The sacrifices members of our armed forces make on a daily basis are real. So should be the devotion and gratitude of the citizens they protect. 

Honoring those who serve. That is something we can all agree on.

Rest In Peace, Private Rambo!