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Many quietly helped give hero final tribute
America Supports You - American Airlines Flight 1904 Chicago to Miami ^ | Dec 2006 | Gary Blied

Posted on 12/17/2006 12:09:26 PM PST by rface

We were informed at the gate that the remains of Master Sgt. Shawn Richardson would shortly be loaded on our flight. A 17-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he had been killed in the service of our country. I went down onto the ramp and found the long box appropriately stationed off to the side in a luggage cart. The curtains on the cart were pulled. It was my honor to spend a few moments in prayer with him.

The captain and I finished our preflight duties and then went back down onto the ramp and checked in with the crew chiefs to observe the loading of M.Sgt. Richardson. We departed almost an hour late due to our late arrival into Chicago.

We called for push and it was immediately granted. Normally, there's a wait. We called ground for taxi and again, immediately granted. Normally, there's a wait. We were cleared onto the runway and for an immediate takeoff. Passing through about 25,000 feet we were further cleared direct OMN (Ormand Beach), which is the first fix on the arrival into Miami. That's basically a thousand-mile straight line and the most direct clearance I've ever received to Miami. Not a word was ever said - but people were watching out for us.

The landing in Miami was uneventful, until we went to turn off the runway. The tower asked us to proceed a little further down. A Miami Dade police cruiser met us on the taxiway. He escorted our American Airlines Boeing 757 to the D terminal. The entire north ramp had been cleared of all aircraft. I'd never seen that either.

As we approached the ramp, we noticed the lights. At least a half-dozen fire trucks, no less than 15 police cars and countless other vehicles were all parked in rows with their lights flashing. As we taxied our aircraft to the gate, the fire trucks saluted our arrival with crossed streams of water shooting over the aircraft. My first seven years of service were in the Air Force Crash Fire Rescue Department. There is no higher salute from the fire department.

We parked the aircraft and shut down. After our checklists, Capt. Jeff Wallace and I went down to the ramp level and observed the unpacking of the casket, then the dressing with a flag. It was accepted by the bearer team, comprised of members of the Miami Dade Police Department and Air Force Honor Guard.

After the "present arms" order (when all military and former military render salutes and civilians put their hands over their hearts) and the "order arms" order, when the salutes were finished, I noticed our jet. I saw a somber face in every window. Not one passenger had moved until our fallen solider had departed the aircraft.

When the procession left the airport, it was worthy of a presidential motorcade and a fitting and probably all too uncommon show of love and respect for one of our fallen.

It was 1:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, we were almost two hours late. Our reception had probably been waiting for hours and I would bet that most of the people on our ramp were not on the clock.

Every now and then you see it: the silent majority that makes this country the best in the world. I was so proud that night. Proud that my fellow citizens on every level worked to get Master Sgt. Richardson to his final repose. Proud of all the people who showed up on the ramp late that Saturday night and waited hours into Sunday morning to show their respect. Proud of our passengers that they recognized a greater purpose than getting off the jet. And proud that my company, American Airlines, knows how to handle this situation with humility and honor.

As you go through your day, remember that there are thousands of men and women overseas in the service of our country, far from home and in danger's way. Please remember that they have families back here who live every day in fear of the phone call or official visit with the news that their worst nightmare has come true.

Be thankful for their efforts and if you know someone who is in the service, get their address from their family and write them and thank them. It's the least you can do.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
As told by Gary Blied: "On Saturday, Dec. 3, I was co-pilot for American Airlines Flight 1904 flying from Chicago to Miami." ......the source to this story is found at the link to ... America Supports You (scroll down the page to see the unformatted version):

....this same write-up appears today in the Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)...

Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)

Dec 17, 2006

Gary Blied

Many quietly helped give hero final tribute

Gary Blied of Bridgman is a Battle Creek native and pilot for American Airlines. A retired U.S. Air Force major, he also is a former Battle Creek firefighter and member of the Battle Creek Air National Guard.

1 posted on 12/17/2006 12:09:28 PM PST by rface
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To: rface
Here go the tear buckets again..

Every time I a little discouraged, I'll reread these stories. We have a whole lot to be thankful for.

God bless him and all who served and are now serving.
2 posted on 12/17/2006 12:18:16 PM PST by allen08gop (America -- The Arsenal For Humanity)
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To: StarCMC; Bethbg79; bentfeather; EsmeraldaA; MoJo2001; Kathy in Alaska; Brad's Gramma; ...

Bring tissues to read this. It warms the heart and touches the soul.

3 posted on 12/17/2006 12:22:30 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: rface

Kleenex time

4 posted on 12/17/2006 12:25:06 PM PST by JRios1968 (Tagline wanted...inquire within)
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To: JRios1968

a moving write-up, and a great story.

5 posted on 12/17/2006 12:28:51 PM PST by rface ("...the most schizoid freeper I've ever seen" - New Bloomfield, Missouri)
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To: rface had me tearing up.

6 posted on 12/17/2006 12:30:22 PM PST by JRios1968 (Tagline wanted...inquire within)
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To: rface

Wonderful. Thank you.

7 posted on 12/17/2006 12:43:37 PM PST by Steely Tom
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To: rface

Damn, I must have something in my eye causing it to water.

8 posted on 12/17/2006 1:01:19 PM PST by Clink ("Government is not the solution, government is the problem".--Ronald Reagan)
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To: allen08gop

My problems seem small indeed compared to the sacrifice made by our heroes and their families.

9 posted on 12/17/2006 1:24:53 PM PST by OldFriend (THE PRESS IS AN EVIL FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REMEDY)
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To: rface

Very touching.

10 posted on 12/17/2006 2:28:52 PM PST by Sweet_Sunflower29 (I work at Curves!)
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To: rface
I'm a loyal American Airlines customer. This is another reason why. And as co-pilot Blied stated, that flight was straight as can be:

Flightaware: AAL1904 on Dec 3rd

11 posted on 12/17/2006 2:55:04 PM PST by Right_Handed_Writer (Into each life a little rain must fall. That's fine. It's the nuclear winter snows that concern me.)
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To: rface

Eyeball sweat maximus.

Semper Fidelis,
Mark A. Schallow
MSgt, USMC (Ret.)

12 posted on 12/17/2006 5:44:38 PM PST by fontman
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