My soldier is on his way back to Virginia

My soldier is on his way back to Virginia

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Deal Colonel


Letter from a US . Airline pilot:

He writes:

My lead flight attendant came to me and said, “We have an H.R. On this flight.” (H.R. Stands for human remains.)

“Are they military?” I asked.
‘Yes’, she said.

‘Is there an escort?’ I asked.
‘Yes, I already assigned him a seat’.

’Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early," I said..

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

‘My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,’ he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our pre-flight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. ‘I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board’, she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. ’I’m on it’, I said. I told her that I would get back to her.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a Secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I Saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:

‘Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans.. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.’

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, ‘You have no idea how much this will mean to them.’

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft manuvering every which way to enter and exit.
When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.
‘There is a team in place to meet the aircraft’, we were told.
It looked like it was all coming together, then I realised that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the co-pilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, ‘Take your time.’

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.’

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of ‘God Bless You’, I’m sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane.

They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety

Foot note:
I know everyone who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me ( Being Defence Officer’s son.)
Prayer chain for our Military… Don’t break it!

Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women.
Don’t break it!
I do Remember The Epitaph at “ Chushul” in Ladhak after the Chinese Ops of 1962 :
“ When you go home Tell them ,for their Today we gave our Tomorrow”
“ They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honour and respect.

’Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us..bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.. In God’s Name’
2 Dimers
Deal Cadet

Awesome. Wish we could do something similar for our Siachen heroes

Deal Colonel


Answering machine message,

“I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call.

I am making some changes in my life.

Please leave a message after the beep.

If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."


My wife and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.


Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.


Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.


The irony of life is that, by the time you’re old enough to know your way around,

you’re not going anywhere.


God made man before woman, so as to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.


I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder to find one.


Every morning is the dawn of a new error.


Aspire to inspire before you expire.

Deal Colonel

Times of India
Times Internet
Three organs a lifeline for four persons
Ranjana Diggikar |

Aurangabad: Three vital organs of a 28-year-old brain-dead man provided the much-needed lifeline to four persons in need, one of them living a thousand kilometre away from here.
After the family of Rambhau Ubale, who was declared brain dead following a road accident, agreed to donate his organs at Seth Nandlal Dhoot Hospital, his kidneys, heart and liver were successfully harvested and transplanted as well on Sunday. This was the third cadaver donation the city reported since its first ever earlier this year.

The plan to harvest his lungs had to be dropped as the condition of the recipent patient had deteriorated. Ubale’s organs were donated to hospitals in Aurangabad, Chennai and Pune and provided a new lease of life to four persons.
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Chief surgeon and Seth Nandlal Dhoot Hospital CEO Vijay Borgaonkar said, “His heart, liver and two kidneys were harvested on Sunday and successfully transplanted. As per previous records of the cadaver transplant taken place in the country, this is for the first time that a heart travelled 1,000km (from Aurangabad to Chennai), the longest distance covered during such a procedure in the country.”
A resident of Wai village in Mantha taluka of Jalna district, Ubale was riding a motorcycle from Ranjani village to Wai when he met with an accident and suffered head injury. He was admitted to a private hospital in Jalna. Since his condition turned critical, he was referred to Life Specialty Hospital in Aurangabad on Saturday. After doctors declared him brain dead, he was shifted to Seth Nandlal Dhoot Hospital for organ harvesting, said his brother Bharat.
Rambhau is survived by his wife, daughter, son, mother, two brother and three sisters.
“The patient was declared brain dead officially on Saturday at 2.30pm following two tests,” Aurangabad ZTCC chairman Sudhir Kulkarni said.
Later, state health officials and the ZTCC of Pune, Mumbai and Chennai co-ordinated and decided that the liver would go to Mumbai (Global Hospital), the heart and lungs to Chennai (Global Hospital) and the kidneys to two hospitals in Aurangabad.
The plan to send the heart and the lungs to a patient at Global Hospital had to be cancelled as the his condition deteriorated. But the Tamil Nadu ZTCC recommended donating the heart to Fortis Hospital in Chennai to a 17-year-old boy. The harvesting of the lungs was dropped since no recipient could be identified within such a short period, a health official said.
The plan to send the liver to Global Hospital for a patient was cancelled for the same reason. Eventually, it was decided that the liver would go to Ruby Hospital in Pune. “This is the second time that a liver went to Pune from Aurangabad within a month,” the official added.
Rambhau’s organs were harvested at the Dhoot hospital early on Sunday morning. “This was the third cadaver donation in Marathwada and the first occasion that the organs were sent outside the state,” said Himanshu Gupta, the chief administrator of the Seth Nandlal Dhoot hospital.
Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) officials said the organ retrieval procedure began at 3.45 am on Friday and was completed at 9.00 am. The heart was flown by medical flight Navy 233, which landed at Aurangabad on Sunday at 6.30 am and left with the organs to Chennai at 9 am. Meanwhile, the heart was again flown from the Chennai airport to the Fortis Hospital helipad by a special mini-aircraft. It was successfully transplanted till 3pm, the official said.
On the other hand, the liver reached Ruby Hospital in two-and-a-half hours after it left Aurangabad at 9.30am. Rambhau’s kidneys gave a new lease of life to two patients in Aurangabad. One of them was a 45-year-old resident of Aurangabad, who was on peritoneal dialysis for five years and the was a 34-year-old patient from Jalna who was suffering from end-stage renal disease.
The first cadaver donation in Aurangabad took place on January 15, when the organs retrieved from a 24-year-old Buldhana youth gave a new lease of life to a 58-year-old man from Aurangabad and two patients in Mumbai, one aged 62, the other 47. Both the kidneys and the liver were harvested in Aurangabad. However, the heart went waste due to logistic problem.
With the success of first cadaver transplant, the authorities asked the proposed Aurangabad ZTCC chairman to prepare a list of patients requiring organ transplant in Aurangabad. This committee would pave way for cadaver organ transplants in Aurangabad helping hundreds of patients, who had to approach the Pune ZTCC, 235 km from here, despite having equipped hospitals in the city.
Barely 15 days later, on January 30, a 39-year-old brain dead patient’s family agreed to donate his organs, which gave a fresh lease of life to nearly six patients in Aurangabad, Pune and Mumbai, including a successful first heart transplant.

Deal Colonel


Recently I travelled to the US. At the Indian airport (T-3, Delhi), prior to boarding the United Airlines Flight, the crew (All Indian) started organising the boarding. they announced that all US military personnel, serving or retired may please board first. Now, I know that some of you will scoff at the idea. Some will be confused. But I have a few thoughts / observations. This must surely be a US Policy and important enough for them, that it found implementation on Indian soil even. This must be something to do with the respect that the Americans want to display towards their own defence personnel. I walked up to the Indian young man, who was the employee of United Airlines and who was handling the boarding (It was on 6 June by the flight leaving at 11.30 pm), and asked him if Indian army colonels would also have the benefit of this same courtesy? He was visibly shaken up and embarrassed. He said, “No sir, the time has not yet come in our country when we can convey our respect as a grateful nation”. I returned back to where my daughter was sitting. She asked me what I had gone for, but I was too embarrassed to tell her the truth, I replied…..“Nothing darling, I was checking about the flight”. I did not want her to start questioning as to why we, as a nation do not extend the same courtesies as another nation does. I did not want her to start comparing our country with another, to our detriment. I did not want her to raise her eye brows, when on the other hand, I have always been expostulating the glory of our country, to my children and urging them not to succumb to other pressures and to become honest, upright and responsible citizens of India. Within the US, I took a flight from New York to Miami on 14 June via Delta Airlines. the same story was repeated. But this time I did not go to ask any embarrassing questions. Then I learnt that all US Military personnel are allowed one extra piece of baggage and are all entitled to use the Lounge. My nourishment was not adversely affected, nor my comfort. My ego was surely a bit deflated. Honestly, I confess, the thought did come to my mind….about whether my spending my entire youth in the Indian Army was worth it? The answer which came back was…….Yes !!! It surely was !!!

The men I commanded gave me the respect, my brother officers gave me the camaraderie and bonhomie and warmth. The army life gave me a sense of discipline and personality that has stood by my side all these years. Some of my countrymen still look up to me with warmth and respect when they learn that I am a retired army officer. I feel proud and happy that I am not a Politician or a political stooge…..yes I think it was well worth spending my youth and more (28 years in uniform) with the glorious Indian army…….whether OROP comes through or not !!!!!!