Look. Sometimes, people need the outrage culture to get justice. For example, Epstein didn’t kill himself. Right? But in other instances, the issue doesn’t really need hate directed towards it, but rather a lesson needs to be learned with a calm and cool collected tone. We know, we know, your grumbles have been heard and acknowledged, we know you like it when shooty bois shoot up some bad guis, but in this instance, a calm cool head is what we need. This is going to be lengthy though, so settle in and get ready, you’re about to be here for a hot minute.
There is a specific protocol that military escorts of military remains have to follow. As much as possible these protocols ensure that the fallen service member is treated with honor and respect as they travel to their final resting place. While some of the traditions and actions that we who have worn the uniform perform might seem…unnecessary and superfluous to those not in the know, they are in fact extremely important and carry a great deal of meaning. Now we…”probably won’t” fight you over being disrespectful towards some of these traditions, but there are some dudes and dudettes that may actually throw a few blows.
In fact, these matters are so serious that the United States Marine Corps, explicitly details what an escort should do. We’ve only provided a snippet here of what the duties are as they are relevant to the case at hand, but if you’d like to read the full order, you can click here. You’ll find the information on page 117, section H.
(1) Stay with the remains while at any common carrier terminal
at point of origin to ensure the remains are in a safe area, under
cover and out of public view. Once remains are placed in a secure
area, escorts are not required to physically stay with the remains in
the secure area when remains are delivered to the terminal in advance
of the actual departure time.
(2) Ensure all planned transportation arrangements are carried
out, to include witnessing the loading of remains, per the provided
(3) Ensure appropriate honors are rendered during the loading
and off-loading of the remains.
(4) Be especially attentive during the transfer of remains
from one carrier to another. Notify the consignor, consignee, and the
assigned CACO of any change in transportation arrangements which
affect the time or method of delivery.
(5) Report to the carrier any damage to the casket or outer
case that is observed at a transfer point or destination terminal.
Obtain a statement concerning the damage and liability from the
(6) Upon arrival at the common carrier terminal at final
destination or at an authorized stopover point, proceed to the section
receiving the remains prior to their release to the funeral director.
The air tray is only to be removed by the funeral director prior to
placement in the hearse. A flag may be draped over the casket with
the union (cluster of stars) at the head over the left shoulder of the
Now, we have confirmed with Delta that there is a procedure they follow for circumstances such as this. Delta also has an Honor Guard that they utilize for military remains, you can read about them by clicking here. It would appear, on the surface that there is little ignorance when it comes to how airline carriers, specifically Delta, handle the situation of military remains on any Delta flight.
HOWEVER…there was recently an incident regarding military remains and an escort that was not handled with the care that the situation warrants. An escort, who informed the crew of his duties was sat in the back of the plane, making it difficult for him to deplane immediately to watch over the remains and ensure they were treated with dignity and respect. The crew made no attempt to ensure the escort could deplane in order to fulfill his duties, instead letting the rest of the passengers clog up the aisle as they all clamored to exit the plane. No announcements were made, nothing of the sort, so there he was trapped in the back of a plane unable to perform his sacred duty.
Now, we’re telling you this for one reason and one reason alone, not to get all vindictive and hateful. Not to spurn Delta for what was most likely a mistake by one or two individuals in their organization, given that there are policies and procedures in place but NOW that we all know how it is supposed to go, we can play a small part in ensuring that this action never happens again. If you suspect that there might be an issue like this, simply calmly and quietly inform others around you or the flight crew. It happened and we can’t change the past. It happened and it’s likely not the entirety of Delta’s fault. You, through a rational and reasonable approach, can be a force to ensure that it never happens again.