The Ramp Ceremony never to be forgotten

It’s hard to write articles for Memorial Day, no matter how long you have been doing the job.  How do you put into words the respect and honor you want to convey to readers? Well, years ago, I wrote this poem after witnessing a ramp ceremony.

For those that do not know what a ramp ceremony is, let me explain it. This is the ceremony overseas after someone has fallen and they are ready to go back stateside. Typically, as the servicemember is loaded into the plane, brothers and sisters align the ramp, saluting. It is one of the most memorable and difficult parts of deployment.

I was deployed when Extortion 17 was shot down. 30 U.S. troops and several others lost their lives that day. The ramp ceremony to honor them is something ingrained in my heart and mind forever.

While there will never be words that can perfectly convey the loss, here is my attempt. It is a poem I wrote not long after it happened, and I hope it paints a picture of the respect we all had as we watched them come home. I never could name it.


30 of them dressed in red, white and blue

Marched past us and we all knew

Not a word was said, not a sound made

Silent respects each member was paid

The wave of salutes as they passed by

Each person holding their arm high

The ultimate sacrifice had been given

Nothing could compare to that, then

30 men draped in the colors with pride

While most of watched, teary-eyed

We all knew what happened that day

A fate was charged no one wanted to pay

With Courage and Honor these men fought

To their home, each of them brought

As they passed by to go home to stay

In our heads, each of us bowed to say

“Protect them, please, they paid the biggest debt

Watch over their families as they wept

This could be me standing at the gate

Allowing St. Peter to determine my fate.

Yet proudly we will continue to fight

Not giving up ’til we exhaust our might.”

These men fought with honor and pride,

I’m proud to serve on their side.

May we never forget those who have gone before,

Honoring them to our heart’s core.

May this Memorial Day allow us to remember those who paid the ultimate price.

To watch the full ramp ceremony, click here.

Know what we're sayin fam?

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16 thoughts on “The Ramp Ceremony never to be forgotten”

  1. Beautiful, and thankful, as a part of me is reborn every Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Thank you all at Grunt Style, and all those gone before us.

  2. Leroy J. GIBBS

    Loved the article. Loved the video until the part where some A-hole starts spewing pro-muslim hate against Americans and Christians. That part I didn’t like so much.

  3. MaryJane Talk

    Thank You Lord. Thank You for all our men and women that stand and fight for our country and God. Jesus be with their families. Be with us all.

  4. Jarrett Adam Rector

    I will always remember that day. Walking those caskets onto the ramp is something I will never forget. The prayers, the weight, the walk, it felt like forever, but was only just one moment. I carry the weight to this day. This was an amazing tribute to those who should never be forgotten. Until Valhalla brothers and sisters, may we meet again.

  5. In 2009, 10 minutes after landing in Kandahar, the ramp of the C17 I was on opened and we were hurried out of the aircraft off to join hundreds of others lining the flight line. Off in the distance, solemnly lit sat a lone aircraft. I didn’t know what it was at the time. A few minutes later I heard the Humvee coming and watched in silence as a complete stranger in a flag draped casket passed. The war became real for me in that moment. It was my first ramp ceremony, but sadly not the last.
    Strength to those left behind, and peace to the fallen.

  6. My daughter served in Afghanistan when they had a ramp ceremony. I googled it. It was quite different from the ceremony shown here, but it had to be because it was for so many. Everyone on the base/post met at the airport. Soon, a horse-driven carriage carrying the flag draped coffin of the fallen hero slowly arrived, preceded by a minister. After a few words, and salutes, the coffin was placed aboard the plane. The pallbearers also entered the plane. It is important to note that the coffin goes in feet first, indicating that the fallen “walked” into the plane. That video made an enormous, lasting impact on me. My daughter told me that Obama had been visiting there that day, but he didn’t have the good grace (my words) to attend the ceremony for a hero he sent there to be killed.

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