Baggage Handlers unloading a jet in Atlanta played out a moving ceremony as they unloaded the coffins of a fallen American soldier. Video of the incident has recently gone viral, and a number of headlines have indicated the soldier and his dog were recently deceased, perhaps even both killed by an IED.
Behind the scene, people in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport watched in awe as the boxes were moved from the airplane into a military transport. First the unnamed soldier’s flag-draped coffin, and then a smaller box, presumably the soldier’s dog. Both were respectfully hoisted onto the transport by the volunteer members of the Delta Honor Guard, who were thanked by uniformed members of the Army and Delta pilots afterwards.
It’s an emotional tribute. The image of a soldier’s coffin, followed by a box containing his dog, finally coming home to American soil is enough to move anyone to tears. Whether or not you believe it is another story. The same video was actually posted to YouTube in 2013 by Ben Lynn Media, claiming a far less sensationalized detail.
“The information put out by most people sharing this video is incorrect. I know it has been shared with the heading “Watch what Delta does for Fallen Soldier and his K9” but that info is incorrect,” wrote Brian McConnell, who has been working for Delta Airlines for over 33 years now, leading the Delta Honor Guard for the last several. “The truth is, the first fallen coming off the aircraft, covered in the U.S. Flag is a soldier missing over 63 years from the Korean War who was identified and was being returned to his family, the second and smaller box was actually additional bone fragments of a soldier who was already sent home and buried, they were to go and be interned with that soldier.”
McConnell leads the group of employee volunteers, some with military experience, through the somber procession once a week. He comes from a family of military service, and while he never served himself, McConnell sees his duty to the Honor Guard a gesture towards respecting those that have.
“This is a phenomenal job. It’s heart-wrenching at times. Sometimes it can get a little trying, but the sacrifices these men have made far outweighs anything I’ve got,” he said. “It’s a sobering experience to stand in tribute while customers on board the airplane and in the terminal, as well as the family and escort look on, but it’s our way of serving our country and ensuring our heroes are well cared for on their journey home,” said McConnell.
According to Delta, the Honor Guard has, throughout its history, transported home the remains of more than 3,000 soldiers, including those from current conflicts, and many from foreign conflicts, including Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.
As the Delta Honor Guard continues to serve with respect, and respect those who serve, we wish to do the same. Veterans coming home with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress issues face an entirely new battle. The VA’s U.S. Veteran Service Dog Program covers the cost of service dogs only in cases of physical disability. Dogs for mobility, hearing, or sight are covered, but psychiatric issues like PTSD are not. The VA claims that there is not enough evidence to show that the dogs were efficacious despite countless studies to the contrary.
Service dogs for PTSD can be part of an effective treatment which improves the quality of veterans’ lives, which is why the VA MUST cover the cost of service dogs for psychiatric conditions. Follow the button below and tell the VA to change the U.S. Veteran Service Dog Program to cover service dogs for any troop that needs one!
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