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To a travel expert like Johnny "Jet," DiScala, flying from point A to point B must be exhaustingly mundane. However, on a recent flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, he experienced something so moving, it united a plane full of people in respect and awe.
Initially unbeknownst to the passengers on Delta flight 2255, their plane held precious cargo: The body of a fallen soldier being transported home to his family.
DiScala wrote about their journey on his site, JohnnyJet.com. He says an attendant began her pre-flight speech by recognizing the uniformed soldiers on board -- a common occurrence, especially when departing out of a busy hub like Atlanta. People in the cabin clapped politely, still unaware that the military members among them were there to see off one of their own.
About 45 minutes before they touched down in L.A., the captain came on the PA system and explained the situation.
"The plane went quiet as he explained that there was a military escort on-board and asked that everyone remain seated for a couple of minutes so the soldiers could get off first," DiScala wrote.
The captain also explained there may be fire trucks present to offer the fallen a customary water cannon salute. DiScala said the plane had a full police escort, and the salute was carried out outside their plane windows in full view. He even glimpsed the family of the soldier, surrounded by members of the Army Honor Guard.
Before the passengers deplaned, a military officer addressed the crowd, thanking them for their cooperation, saying, "You are all escorts; escorts of the heart."
"As you can imagine, everyone was silent, no one got up, not even that person from the back row who pretends they don’t speak English so they can be first off the plane," DiScala wrote. "I’m sure most had meteor-sized lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes like I did."
The video he collected from his experience will leave you speechless.
In contrast to the busy aftermath of a usual flight, when people are rushing to make other planes or just escape the bustling airport, Johnny says passengers from his flight lingered by a window, watching the flag-draped casket descend from their plane. Watching, as escorts of the heart.
"Thank you to the Honor Guard for making sure these fallen soldiers, warriors and heroes are not treated like just any piece of luggage as they used to, but rather with the care and respect they so rightly deserve," DiScala wrote.