When an airport was notified that they would be transporting the remains of a fallen veteran, they made certain adjustments to give the hero one last trip. However, once they discovered that he had no family to receive him upon landing, staff members made a quick change of plans.
Boise Airport routinely sees veterans’ remains pass through flights to their final resting place. So, when a fallen veteran’s body was scheduled to fly in from Washington, the usual preparations were put in place. Sadly, there was something missing.
Just before the plane was scheduled to land in Idaho, the airport staff was notified that there would be no one present to receive the remains. Refusing to allow the veteran to arrive without an honorable greeting, staff members scrambled to make some calls.
KTVB reports that the Boise Airport contacted the Boise Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and Horizon Air in an effort to create a last-minute motorcade to meet the deceased veteran. When the fallen soldier arrived, he was greeted by patrol cars, salutes, and a special transporter cart for his flag-draped casket.
“We received a heads-up from the airlines right before the plane arrived and understood that no family would be there to receive the fallen Veteran — so we stepped up to do the right thing,” Boise Airport marketing and communications manager Shawna Samuelson said.
The Boise Police Department said officers who were available “hurried to do the right thing and honor him as he arrived in his home state.”
While the deceased does have family, they were unable to make it to the airport in time since they were still driving from Washington when the plane landed. As such, they were grateful to the airport for compiling such a warm welcome. However, they don’t want the public to think they simply didn’t care about their beloved relative.
According to the family, the veteran was to have memorial services in two states. They had just finished attending his funeral in Washington and were heading to Idaho to meet him. After that, there was to be a memorial service with military rites in Burley. The whole process was overwhelming for them.
“It was heartbreaking to lose him,” a family member said.
The veteran had served in the military for roughly 30 years. He passed away in his early 60s after an unspecified accident north of Seattle. His passing was shocking, so the airport’s careful handling of his remains was a relief for the family.
The veteran’s remains were transported via Alaska Airlines’ “Honoring Those Who Serve” regalia branch. As the parent company of Horizon Air, the airline launched the Fallen Soldiers Program in 2011 to respectfully bring home the remains of veterans. The airline has also designed special carts to transport military caskets. Today, multiple airports across the country utilize these carts.
The story garnered so much attention that people were asking why the airport hadn’t notified the public so that residents could come to honor the fallen veteran as he arrived. Of course, as the airport stated, the tarmac isn’t open to the general public.
“We appreciate so many people being willing to take time out of their day to honor this Veteran! Because the greeting happens on the airfield it is generally limited to escorted family members only for security reasons,” Boise Airport wrote.
The airline has not only provided a much-needed service, but its staff members have proven that they genuinely care for the veterans and families they serve. This service takes much of the burden off grieving family members in a respectable way.
Both Boise Airport and Alaska Airlines have earned the support of the public for their handling of such a sensitive matter. It’s heartwarming to see that our veterans aren’t forgotten by everyone simply because they’ve passed on.