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The following was written by an airline pilot.
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 comments.
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 preflight 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 policyon 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 maneuvering 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 realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, ev eryone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane.
As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot 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 that all other passengers remain in their seats so the family can 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, one passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon everyone on the entire aircraft was clapping.
Expressions 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 while 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 in these United States of AMERICA .
I know every one who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.
Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women.
They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor 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. Amen.”
What’s the best advice to give man about respecting man’s best friend?
In an interview of animal behaviorist John Bradshaw conducted by the staff of National Public Radio, he says it’s realizing that dogs are neither wolves nor furry humans and that dog owners have certain responsibilities to make sure their dogs are psychologically healthy.
Bradshaw, who has spent much of his career debunking bad advice given to dog owners, is the author of a new behavior guidebook called Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, published by Basic Books (2011). The book details what pet owners should expect from their dogs and what their dogs should expect in return from their owners.
Here are a few highlights from the interview of John Bradshaw.
To read all of it, read an excerpt from the book, and/or watch a video, please click here.
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On common misconceptions about wolves
“The main [myth] … is that wolves are essentially an intrinsically aggressive animal that is continuously trying to take over whatever group they find themselves in and dominate it. And the new wolf biology really exposed that as an artifact — that particular view of wolves came from wolves in zoos and in wildlife parks, where a bunch of unrelated wolves were basically put together and told to get on with it and, not surprisingly, they got on with it by being aggressive toward one another. The new picture of wolf society is that wolves are harmonious animals. They live in family groups. They get along really well together, and they’re almost never aggressive to one another. The aggression comes out when two families meet, so they have very strong family ties.”
On playing tug of war with your dog
“Let’s take a very simple piece of advice that trainers take out, which is you should never allow a dog to go in front of you through a doorway because it will give the signal to the dog that you are submissive and are therefore allowing him or her — the dog — to become dominant. Take another one. Many trainers advise against playing tug of war games because there is a risk the dog will win and the dog, by winning, will think that you are being submissive and he will therefore be able to control you in the future. We’ve done research into a number of these things — including the tug of war game — and have shown that the premise is just completely not true. If you do let a dog win over and over again at tug of war, it likes you. It wants to play with you more than it did to begin with because it’s having fun. If, on the other hand, the dog gets less attracted to you and doesn’t so much want to play with you — again, but there’s absolutely no change of the dog’s behavior outside of that particular situation of play — the dog does not get into its head that you’re kind of a soft touch and that in the future it will be able to control you and whatever you do.”
“There’s still a great genetic variability if you take the dog as a whole. But within a breed, the variation has diminished. So you get all kind of inherited diseases coming up [which are] very difficult to eradicate at the moment while the breed barriers are being maintained.”
On military dogs
“I’ve been involved with training dogs for the military for about a decade now, so I think everybody but me has been surprised by the dog that went in to find Osama bin Laden. They’re very valuable dogs. And I must say, if I was in an environment like that, I would actually much rather have a dog ahead of me than another human being because it’s another set of senses — and particularly the olfactory sense. These dogs are trained to find and then indicate all manners of things. In that particular instance, it would presumably be explosives and ammunitions and guns and so on.”
On dog senses
“They’re colorblind to a certain extent but colorblind humans are not that badly handicapped. Their hearing is a little bit more sensitive than ours in the high-pitched region. But it’s their sense of smell that really distinguishes them from us. And I don’t think we really take up too much recognizance of that. I think dogs have a right to sniff things whenever it doesn’t cause a problem to us. When I meet a dog, I hold my hand out. I don’t stick my fingers right out, just in case, but I just make a loose fist and put my hand out to the dog. If it’s a small dog, I’ll squat down. And that dog will want to come and sniff my hand and lick it if necessary. That’s a greeting, and I think if we don’t do that, I think it’s as upsetting to the dog as if we were talking to somebody that we never met before and covered our faces at that point in time, as if we were trying to disguise who we were.”
How and why “a purposeful story, well told, is the greatest tool for business.”
Others have their own reasons for praising Peter Guber’s book. Here are three of mine. First, I really appreciate the scope and depth as well as the variety of the personal and professional experiences that he shares. Who doesn’t he know? What hasn’t he done, or at least attempted to do? He can thus draw upon an abundance of real-world situations within which to insert observations and lessons-to-be-learned about how to “connect, persuade, and triumph with the hidden power of story.” His unofficial mentors (“voices”) include Muhammad Ali, David Begelman, Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra, David Copperfield, Steve Denning, Al Giddings, Oscar Goodman, Adolph Hitler, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Ervin (“Magic”) Johnson, Kirk Kerkorian, T.H. Lawrence (of Arabia), George Lopez, Nelson Mandela, Dean Martin, John McCain, Mike Milken, Dennis Miller, Rupert Murdoch…and that’s only those whose last names are A-M.
I also appreciate how specific Guber is when explaining how to get listeners’ attention with an unexpected challenge, then how to give them an emotional experience by narrating the struggle to overcome that challenge or to find the answer to the opening question, and finally, how to galvanize listeners’ response with an eye-opening resolution that calls them to action. Drawing upon all his sources as well as his own extensive experience, Guber shares what he has learned about what could be characterized as the strategies for “dramatic persuasion”: seize attention, establish tension with conflict or uncertainty, introduce setting (context, frame-of-reference, background) and the “players” who populate it, establish dominant themes, develop the plot (i.e. story, narrative, journey, progression or regression), and increase tension (with perils, complications, revelations, etc.) until the (pay-off, climax, denouement, etc.) occurs. He also has much of value to say about back-stories, understanding the given audience and how best to frame the material for it, and “leveraging” the senses to maximize emotional involvement. Guber claims, and I agree, that people may think about a decision but, more often than not, their feelings determine what it will be.
Finally, there are dozens (hundreds?) of memorable anecdotes that are both entertaining and informative. For example, soon after Guber became the young studio head at Columbia Pictures, he met with Jack Warner (founder and former chairman of Warner Bros.) and confided that he felt “overwhelmed” by his responsibilities. Warner replied, “Let me tell you a story. Don’t be confused. You’re only renting that office. You don’t own it. It’s a zoo. You’re the zookeeper, and every single person that comes in the office comes with a monkey. That monkey is their problem. They’re trying to leave it with you. Your job is to discover where the monkey is. They’ll hide it, or dress it up, but remember you’re the zookeeper. You’ve got to keep the place clean. So make sure when you walk them to the door, they’re got the monkey by the hand. Don’t let them leave without it. Don’t let them come back until it’s trained and they have solutions to their problem. Otherwise at the end of the day, you’ll have an office full of screaming, jumping animals, and monkeys shit all over the floor.”