The Gut Wrenching Moment a Fallen Soldier is Removed From a Delta Plane

There are uplifting moments in air travel like this Alaska Airlines captain honoring a passenger by sharing his World War II story and the way this Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant cheers up a 97 year old passenger heading to the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor events.

Mike Helms caught a glimpse of another moment of honor that’s both special and far more somber last week as everyone on a Delta flight remains seated on arrival in Oklahoma City while the body of a fallen soldier is taken off the plane and returned to her waiting family.

Everyone on the plane was reportedly in tears. Even writing about it so am I.

My plane landed in Oklahoma City last night. When we stopped at the terminal, the pilot announced that he would like to inform us that we were flying one of our fallen soldiers home to her family. He asked that we remain on the plane until our soldier was removed from the plane first. He also asked that we give a moment of silence.

As we sat there waiting, I decided to look out the window and this is what I saw. A mother and father hysterically crying on their fallen soldiers casket. Standing off to the side were soldiers from her unit saluting their fallen soldier.

This moment hit me hard for some reason. I couldn’t hold back tears. As I looked around the plane, I was hoping nobody would see my moment of weakness but to my surprise, damn near everyone on the plane was crying.

The woman standing next to me was Muslim, I assume because of the hijab she wore. She was in tears and she tried consoling the woman next to her. The plane was filled with people of all races and religions. It was amazing to see everyone on that plane pay tribute to this woman and her family.

The media is what divides us. I saw no division on that plane last night. I saw Americans paying respect to their countryman. A woman who put her life on the line for me, and you, and your freedoms.

She died like many before her to give you the right to spit in her face while taking a knee during our national anthem or burning our flag in the street

Brooke Newton was born on an Air Force base. She joined the Air National Guard in high school, and then the Navy after college. Her cause of death has not been disclosed. This is the young woman, taken from her family and all of us too early.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I appreciate the sentiment but could do without the propaganda. You might want to take some time on one of your long flights and introspect about whether you truly believe she “died to defend our freedoms” and “the right to take a knee during the national anthem”, etc. When you make statements like that 16 years into just one of our endless wars, you sound either like a defense contractor paid shill or an uncritical mouthpiece that doesn’t bother to question the hawkish policies of the previous few administrations.

    LOL @ your trite use of multiculturalism and syrupy sentimentalism to essentially suggest that criticism through means you disagree with you is unpatriotic. If you still believe the things you wrote and support our country’s constant wars of aggression, then you should look to yourself as one of the reasons those parents had to deal with the unspeakable sadness of having their child returned to them in a coffin.

  2. If you have an opportunity, Google Chance, or Taking Chance, with Kevin Bacon. It’s a worthwhile watch. May have been on HBO.

  3. @Ironstache – I don’t think I said she ‘died to defend our freedoms’ in fact I wrote that we don’t know how she died. I’m a consistent critic of constant war. That doesn’t mean I don’t get choked up at a young woman’s body being delivered home to her family. In fact it’s the tragedies of war that underlie my criticisms.

  4. Does all soldier who died regardless of the cause receive such treatment, or only those died defending their country? Is USA currently invaded and some soldier died?

  5. @Ironstache. Gary didn’t write the part you responded to. He’s just quoting the person who wrote the Facebook post (from what I can tell. the embed isn’t working anymore).

    Personally, I think that man’s last paragraph undermined his argument that the media is what divides us. I’m sure there were other people crying on the plane who did not come to the conclusion about her sacrifice that he did.

    I imagine that we can all be heartbroken at the untimely death of a soldier but draw different conclusions about the right and patriotism of expressing the freedom of speech they fight for on our behalf.

  6. Thank for your Service not only for the Greatest Nation on earth, but for keeping the evil on check for the WHOLE WORLD!

    When I read those privileged first world bastards who have no idea what we deal in less privileged parts of the world, the Tattoo of the Great wounded warrior Tyler J Southern comes to my mind:

    We the Unloved
    Do the Unthinkable
    Fot the Ungrateful

  7. As a former soldier U.S. Army Sargeant and former air force Sargeant, i can tell you a little respect for our sacrifice is all we ask. We do not decide where we go or who we fight all we know is we go where were told and try to bring back all or as many of our personnel back alive and whole as we can, but our first duty is to accomplish our mission even if we must all perish.

    Note even the Muslim may have been in tears, news flash for lefties most well sell your ads out in a heart beat and do it happily anyone sho thinks differently needs to get off their worthless ass and put on the uniform and see for themselves

  8. Umm people don’t have the “right” to spit in somebody’s face not sure where the heck that idea came from. Also, everyone is on the plane crying and there is talk from the guy who made the video about how she died defending the country. We don’t know anything other than she died in San Diego. Last I checked the enemy is not in San Diego and usually if there is a training accident with the military there is media coverage of it.

  9. Well, the recent accident off Singapore was publicised.

    I’m saddened by some of the above comments.

  10. It was gut wrenching until the idiot had to add the part about the knee at a football game. I suppose some people can’t be introspective long enough to leave out their politics.

    The Taking Chance movie gives a nice insight into this process.

  11. This is a moving moment for sure, but I frankly think the imposition of political commentary (the media divides us? Mike Helms believes he can opine on the soldier’s views of appropriate exercise of the right to freedom of speech?) is tasteless and tacky.
    What takes the cake to me, though, is the posting of the soldier’s parents in the picture. This was surely one of the worst moments of their lives, and a stranger photographed it and posted it online in such a way as to allow more strangers to see them in this moment. Perhaps they don’t mind, and perhaps they share his views. But if they don’t, he should have cropped them, blurred them, or not done it in the first place. They deserve our gratitude, our respect, and their privacy.

  12. So a former soldier demand respect. FA demand respect. Gate agents demand respect. Even waitress demand respect (demands tips also).

    Respect is given when respect is due. If you don’t deserve it, don’t expect it. You got paid for being a soldier.

  13. Wow! Such a string of asshole comments. I sincerely hope those assholes get some some long and painful cancer. Have a happy day, assholes!

  14. Thank you, Gary for a truly touching post.
    Amazing how those who accuse those who dare disagree with them of hatred essentially project their own putrid soul onto others. And continue to foster division because it fits an agenda.
    We do not even know how this person died, but,, as the ideologues say, why waste an opportunity to make a political statement.
    And, then, they wonder how is it possible that they are not winning elections by a landslide. SMH.
    I still wonder why you do not simply delete these screwballs. They do not hesitate to delete those who disagree with them.
    I stand corrected. I understand, but these people simply pollute because they can.
    Thank you again. Gary. You enrich our life every day.

  15. I 100% appreciate the sentiment here and love that Gary posted this story. But as so,some from the region, I understand the code this guy is speaking in. The media isn’t what divides us. In fact, it’s the media that, in many instances, holds politicians accountable and prevents unnecessary proliferation of conflict. Also, the fact that “even the Muslim woman was crying” was of note highlights a deep prejudice that has a tendency to align itself with the anti-media right wing element. Sad story and I wish the family the best. But the person who posted this story in the first instance needs to engage in some self reflection.

  16. The lack of respect is very disheartening to me. We don’t all need to agree on war or policy or anything but we can certainly respect life and the loss of it. How many WWII vets do we read of who chose to enlist despite a firm hatred for war? We need to step back and reevaluate our lives if we’re so jaded and confused that we make some of the comments above.

  17. James is right. The “Hero Worship” culture is getting out of hand. The military pays you a salary. You don’t “volunteer” sure you’re not forced to join but it’s a job….like anything else. Am I was the soldier died? Sure I am but I’m also sad when a 16 year old dies in a late night Wendy’s robbery. Military members get all kind if stuff for free. Discounts here, there and everywhere and all the shallow worshipping they can swallow from mindless Americans who think it’s just the right thing to do to say “Thank you for your service”, kiss their ass or guest them into a lounge… they can feel good about themselves while they regularly treat other people like sh*t. I work with a bunch of people that used to be in the military, and some of these guys are some of the biggest scam artist, scumbags, sociopaths and a-holes that you’d ever want to meet. They’re all pulling workers comp scams and they all carry a sickening sense of entitlement.

  18. why the Need to film Another Family in a Moment of Grief? public Service Moment? pathetic! Would Love to cram that Cellphone either down your throat or up your rear end. totally Disrespectful to the Soldier or Her Family. You Social Media Nutjobs are a Cancer

  19. I don’t know why but I thought this was another Delta bashing article. Anyone else think the title was slightly misleading?

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