I suspose, this might be over the top American patriotic stuff to some; however, I thought it was a good read honoring, those American servicemen who pay the supreme price. The âDover Mission.â Sir, From time to time our Directorate has the honor of "pulling the Dover Mission, " as it is called. The honor rotates amongst the GOs here at the Pentagon and involves going to meet the planes carrying the remains of brave Americans who died while serving their country and ensuring they are forwarded appropriately. It is a very somber and respectful ceremony, and one that very few of us ever get to participate in. One of my co-workers, who is a DAC, went on the mission a couple of days ago with our General , and I wanted to pass along her thoughts and feelings about participating in this mission, especially in light of the upcoming Veterans ' Day. I thought maybe your news group might want to see it as well. V/R Trish _____________________________________________ Subject: RE: Dover Mission This Evening (UNCLASSIFIED) Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE November 6, 2006 Tonight I had the honor of completing a mission with my boss. Now, if you work in corporate America you probably would not call most of the things you do with your boss' "missions". However, my boss is a Brigadier General in the Army. And the mission I went on with him took us to a tarmac at an Air Force Base, and me onto a 747 cargo plane carrying the remains of 12 individuals who died defending our country. This was the return home for these Soldiers, Marines and one civilian. These honorable, duty driven individuals, who did what I know I could not, came back home in metal boxes, I can still here the clank of the handles as the honor guard placed each flag draped box onto the lift. When I entered the plane, something few civilians do, there was a somber silence and then almost a peace as we replaced flags, made sure all the corners were strait and lined up for the General and the Chaplin to come aboard for a prayer. One individual who had driven with us was there to meet his best friend, and it was a meeting he never expected to have. Pain was in his eyes, which I know had flooded up from his heart, but he honored him and the 11 others the way all of the soldiers around me did, with dignity and respect. Families do not come to the plane, this is a ceremony, a somber one steeped in tradition and surrounded with integrity, respect and reverence. We welcomed these warriors back; I thanked them in my heart and in my head. The honor guard, with precision moves, gently laid (which was amazing to me that moving a metal box weighing hundreds of pounds could be done as such) each hero into the truck that would take them to a place to rest en route for their families to say goodbye. I know that those bodies were just the houses that these amazing souls occupied for an all together too short of a time, but I still cried. I knew none of them and all of them in a way only an Army civilian employee can - as the face or person you see walking down the hall in uniform, serious, wishing he could be anywhere but the pentagon, and I cried for them. I cried for the Solider there who had to take his best friend back to the wife and two very young children who had said goodbye to him only a few short months before, and I cried because I knew this was one of numerous times a plane would land on this air field to complete a mission like this. The sun was setting, the moon was full, and the world was so very quiet as this ceremony took place. It was hard to imagine violence and hatred so black that a life had no meaning, that people had to die. Hard to imagine the fear they felt, the courage they felt, the pain or the hope they felt. I could not speak when the Chaplin asked if I was all right, I could only nod. I ached everywhere from standing so stiff, from forgetting to breath, from holding in the tears, but mostly I ached in my heart. I felt proud to be an American as I watched the starched red white and blue on each box make its way onto the waiting arms of a fellow solider, and then the vehicle, and I was startled as the doors to the vehicles shut and drove away. "Present Arms" echoed in my head and I could feel my hand still on my heart, afraid to take it away - as if I wanted to make sure I could still feel it beating. We were dismissed, we marched quietly back to the buildings, tears coming but without shame or embarrassment. I was glad I could be there to honor them, to show them the dignity and respect they deserved. There were no horrid posters or banners being waved, not a news van or report being made about this. Although everyone should see it - everyone should FEEL it. It was a time for them, to welcome them home to thank them to honor them. At a time of change, a time of war, a time when a hero was and is needed, and these people gave their most precious gift so that I could drive home and kiss my two year old on the head as he slept. I prayed for the families of these fallen friends, of the people that will miss them, the units that they served, my family who I am blessed with, and my right to say I am free. I may not be an Army civilian for much longer, but I can only hope that no matter how small an impact I made that I helped in some way, I took an oath and have always been proud to represent all that it meant. I wonder how many military and civilians think about that oath when they come to work, and I wonder if it would make a difference if they did. "I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE UPON WHICH I AM ABOUT TO ENTER. SO HELP ME GOD" Duty, honor, integrity, all just words, which did not seem to do justice for the 12 men who I honored yesterday, but fit more than anything for those who were there, and those who will continue the fight and services to respect the ones who fall. I thanked them; I thank all of you who do what I cannot so that my family can live in a country that honors all of these heroes.