A Flight to Remember


A Flight to Remember

I started off 2007 being exceptionally thankful for what I had in my
life and for the bounty and blessing that God had given me and my family
and I reflected on and cherished my families good fortune. In late
January of this new year I was returning to Dallas on an American
Airlines flight. Shortly before we landed the pilot made an announcement
that among our fellow passengers was a double amputee, wounded soldier who had lost both legs in Iraq. The Captain explained that the young soldier was a double amputee due to combat wounds suffered in combat and briefly described his service exploits and some of the circumstances surrounding his devastating and life changing injuries.

The plane was eerily quiet during the pilot's explanation. You could
feel the deep seated sympathy and respect the passengers on the aircraft had for what they were hearing. It was an incredibly poignant and
sobering moment for all of us. The silence and reverence displayed by
the passengers, after the Captain had finished his tribute to the young
soldier, was deafening and one I will never forget.

We all gave him the traditional and customary applause. The plane then
became very silent. Business people quit talking about the deals they
were closing, casual travelers stopped discussing their points of
destination and the plans they had made. They all seemed to take a few
moments to reflect on where they were in life and you could absolutely
feel the hurt and sadness in their hearts for this great young American.
It was like 120 people wanted to take this tremendous burden off of this
young man but were helpless to do so.

Upon landing we were all ask to stand fast while this splendid example
of our countries best was allowed to make his way off the airplane. He
had two prosthetic legs and a walking cane type device in each hand.
This array of metal and plastic allowed him to steady his balance and
gave him the ability to walk in a very jerky and unnatural manner that
was obviously painful from the wincing he was displaying on his face.

I was behind him as he walked, at a very slow pace, up the debarkation
Jet-way. It seemed to take forever for us to traverse the long tubular
passageway to the open terminal area. The young hero in front of me was obviously in a significant degree of pain and discomfort, and I ask him if he needed a wheelchair or some assistance. He clearly and with
respect, resoundingly told me he was fine.

Upon finally entering the terminal area he slowly worked his way to a
point that was out of the main flow of pedestrian traffic. It was at
that time that my 2007 changed for the better and I realized how
fortunate and blessed I was to meet a man of such indomitable spirit and

I stopped in front of this now winded and almost exhausted young
American fighting man who had just expended a monumental amount energy just to walk the long distance from the aircraft to the terminal. I
extended my hand to shake his and what was presented to me was even more heartbreaking. What was presented to me was a thumb and an index finger with about 1 inch of residual skin and bone going back to what now is a one inch heel of his right hand. Not only had he lost both legs but virtually all of his right hand.

I looked at his hand and then I looked into his eyes. He was standing
ramrod straight, looking me square in the eye and his two fingers were
actually gripping my entire right hand with a firmness I would not have
thought possible. He did this while balancing on two prosthetic metal
legs with a cane in his left hand as he had to lean in that direction to
keep from falling. As I looked at him and was shaking the hand of this
true American hero I was searching for words to say to this incredible

What do I say to him? Just thanking him was so horribly and totally
inadequate. Praising him was not what he wanted. So, I said what came to my heart and I reached up and touched his face like he was my son and I told him I loved him. I will admit that this Marine Colonel had huge
tears in my eyes and I could hardly control my emotions when this great
American Soldier told me "Don't worry sir, I'll be fine, the Army is
taking care of me", "I just wish I could go back and rejoin my company".

I told him if he needed anything to let me know and he smiled at me and
said "yes sir". I was crying and he was smiling. I could hardly turn
away and leave but as I did another amazing thing happened. Behind me
had formed a line of so many people that it extended across the entire
terminal gate area farther than I could see. People were lining up
behind me to pay tribute too and speak to this genuine American hero.
Our great American citizenry had put their busy lives on hold for a
brief moment to shake the hand of a wounded soldier.

I have no idea how long he stood there but their were at last 30 people
in line to greet him and more falling in every time the line drew down.
I observed this for over 30 minutes and there was never a let up in the
line of people wanting to meet this young warrior.

As I returned home that night to my wife and my baby daughter, I can't
begin to describe the feeling of security and peace I felt knowing such
magnificent men are there to protect me and my family. I further
realized that the world we live in is a dangerous place and I thank God
that hard, rough men stand ready to perform extraordinary deeds to make it a better and safer place to live.

Dennis Beal

Col USMC (ret)


Again as has been said before on here wouldnt happen in the UK
For all their faults the US have at least got it right when it comes to the respect for their troops. I am married to a Yank and still find it amazing the hand shakes and thank you you get from total strangers over there when they find out your in the Forces. I got married out there in uniform, carried my kit through customs on the US side I was treated almost like royalty in the church after the ceremony people came up to me shook my hand and said some great things to me.


War Hero
God and soldiers, men adore
In times of trouble, and no more.
For when dangers passed, and the wrongs have been righted
God is forgotten and the old soldier slighted




A very poignant story, Trippy. It brought a tear to me minces and no mistake. It's heartening to see how valued and respected squaddies are in the US.


PS. I know this is a bit off-thread, Trippy, but why does your avatar remind me of a Swiss army knife with all the blades folded out?
Moving story, but a good show from the US people who seem to know how treat the wounded regardless of their view on the right/wrongs of the war.
In the UK we like to hide the wounded away out of the public glare we seem to be embarrassed of them, when we should be embarrassed about the tw*t who sent them there in the first place!


Bugsy said:
A very poignant story, Trippy. It brought a tear to me minces and no mistake. It's heartening to see how valued and respected squaddies are in the US.


PS. I know this is a bit off-thread, Trippy, but why does your avatar remind me of a Swiss army knife with all the blades folded out?

My avatar, consists of the crossed arrows of the branch collar insignia of the American Special Forces Regiment The Red Arrow head with USA & Canada on it is the shoulder insignia of the First Special Service Force, of WWII Fame along with the name Black Devils' for that unit, which was earned by that unit in Anizo, Italy, when the Germans called them that.



The FSSF is now part of the linage of the American Special Forces Regiment, along with some OSS units and others.

My avatar is a combination of these things above, that honors that history and heritage. I use it because I belong to that Regiment, as well as being proud to have served in it and to honor that heritage.

As for what it looks like to you, I have no answer; however, it reduced in size to fit the role as an avatar, perhaps the reduction made it look that way to you. To me, it looks just like what it is! :thumright:

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