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March 13, 2006

Escort Duty

Provided below is a message from CW4(R) James V. Torney, who escorted the remains of CW2 Kyle E. Jackson home from Iraq. CW2 Jackson and CW3 Mitchell K. Carver, Jr., were killed in action near Al Sukar, Iraq, on Jan. 13, when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter came under attack by enemy forces using small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

I was escorting our brother Kyle home the other day. A duty I don't ever want to do again but will not refuse.

Besides all of the attention you get walking around in your A's, I was thanked for my service from civilians, prior service, and active duty personnel in the various airports, some with a passing thank you, some stopped me to shake my hand. This I want to extend and share with all of you.

Delta Airlines was very accommodating. They put me in first class and moved me to the very first seat in each plane. A woman gave me her aisle seat so that I could leave without having to climb over her when the flight was over. After conversing with this woman for a while, I found out her husband was an F4E pilot during the Vietnam era. I was invited to dinner with them when I was finished with my duty. The restaurant manager paid for my rather pricey meal much to the dismay of my new friends who planned to pay for it themselves. I was then invited to stay at their home as long as I was going to be in Florida.

Back to Delta Airlines and the real reason of this post.

Prior to backing out of the terminal in Philadelphia the pilot came over the intercom. With a choked up voice he thanked the military for their service and explained that we were carrying the remains of a soldier who gave his life for his country and then asked for a moment of silence. We sat in silence for a few minutes and then backed out for Atlanta. Upon reaching Atlanta, I was met on the tarmac by a man who walked me around the front of the plane where there were more men standing in a row with every branch flag and the US flag. These men had assembled their own honor guard complete with a retired Army chaplain. There was someone from each branch holding a flag. They pulled the crate out of the plane and stopped it on the belt giving the chaplain time to say a prayer. They started the belt and came to attention rendering honors as it passed. They thanked me and sent me with a card they made on the computer and signed with their deepest regrets to the family and shuttled us to the next terminal. They had their reflective vests embroidered with Honor Guard and a US flag across the back. They also told me that they have a dark blue trolley that they use for this but it was missing (we found out it was sent to pick up Mitch at another terminal). They had explained that this was the least they could do to give back to those who had given their lives for them. This was the third toughest thing on my trip (seeing how much some really do care). The second: inspecting Kyle's uniform for the last time. And the hardest thing: seeing his family.

I wanted to share this experience with all of you because none of this was done for me. It was done for all of us. It was something nice out of something so terrible.

Thank You Kyle.

Thank You Mitch.

See you on the Green Fellahs!!!!!!!

James V. Torney

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

More here.

For pictures of Chiefs Jackson and Carver, go here. The Jan 13th entry.