Before the flight, a stewardess gave the worst news to pilot Rodriguez: the remains of a soldier were being loaded in that flight . Initially, the captain asked if the military man was being escorted by someone, and the answer was yes. So Rodriguez said the escort could board the plane before everyone else. In addition, he asked for them to be taken to the cockpit to talk to him.
The pilot spoke with the escort and asked if he could do anything else for the soldier. When the plane took off, the flight attendant called the captain again and said that the soldier’s family was also on board. At that point, Rodriguez did something very unusual and against the rules!
He used the flight communication system to talk to the airline. Rodriguez explained the situation and asked if they provide a dignified return to the warrior’s family. The company said they would respond soon to his request. After two hours, he received the answer:
“Captain, sorry I took so long to give you a return call. There is a policy on this now, and I had to check a few things. Upon arrival, a dedicated escort team will meet the plane. A van will be used to carry the remains and another secondary van will be given to the family…
Captain, most of us here in flight control are veteran soldiers. Please convey our condolences to the family. Thank you.”
The pilot printed the message and showed the family. But Rodriguez didn’t stop there… as soon as the plane landed, he pressed the communication button and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the captain: I stopped by our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect, and on board are also his father, mother, wife and daughter. The flight crew is asking all passengers to stay in their seats so the family can get off the aircraft first.”
When the plane stopped, all the passengers let the family out first. While they were taking their things, a passenger applauded and everyone followed. As they left, the relatives of the deceased soldier received condolences and words of support.
“It was just words, I told them, and I could say it over and over, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier. I just asked them respectfully to eflect on this event and on the sacrifices that millions of our men and women make to guarantee our freedom and security,” Rodriguez said.
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