Theodore's World: Delta's Atlanta Worldport Honor Guard

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August 14, 2009

Delta's Atlanta Worldport Honor Guard

Delta's Atlanta Worldport Honor Guard

One evening on the Atlanta ramp, Tom Schenk was delivering bags to a gate when he saw what appeared to be a soldier standing at the front of the aircraft saluting a coffin. Compelled to investigate, he walked to the belt loader, wading through bags and workers in their flurry of activity. There he saw a female Marine; she had tears in her eyes. He stood at attention and joined her in rendering honors. After the body was loaded onto a cart, Mr. Schenk, a retired Navy Petty Officer, introduced himself and inquired about the deceased.

The young Marine escort revealed that the casket contained the body of her brother. He was killed in Iraq protecting her and others in their unit. Unsure of just what to do, Tom Schenk determined at that moment that we must begin to show a greater degree of honor and caring when we have the opportunity. His passion drove him to rally support from many willing Delta employees.

The paint shop in Atlanta designed and created a special cart, on their own time, to be used when receiving a military body. Worldport leadership has continuously offered assistance, removing operational obstacles by allowing volunteer agents time to help in this effort. Caring people in Worldport Cargo have worked hard to make sure the special cart makes it to the inbound on time and that the escorts are carried to the correct outbound gate. The ACS Forum has welcomed, supported and promoted the Honor Guard all over the Delta system. A host of Customer Service Agents have dedicated themselves to making this unique service outstanding – occasionally donating time on their off days to make it happen. The Chief Pilot's office has made it a priority to keep everyone informed whenever they have a military HR and escort. A VFW post and other anonymous individuals have donated money to purchase flags, emblems and vests. What a caring and focused team we have here!

"It's the least we can do." says Mr. Schenk, "These people took a stand for us so we can continue our way of life." One of the escorts said it best, "It's so uplifting at a time like this to be surrounded by people who really care. It's an honor and privilege to know the people of this airline." We agree.

From the notes at the YOUTube video:
Honoring My Dad

Delta's Honor Guard rendering Honors on my father
MSgt Angus J. McConnell (retired) escorted by my son SrA Brian J McConnell, Jr. {Brian is now serving in Afghanistan.

He is weapons and ordnance with the 354th FS 'Bulldogs" A-10 "Warthog" in Kandahar he will be home Jan 2010...} I have been with Delta over 25 years and now coordinate the honor guard in ATL...Thank You to all who serve.

My son, Ura (aka Bucky) told me about this video and the program Delta started a few years ago at the Atlanta airport. DL carries a lot of human remains shipments and they started an honor guard to meet and honor all our veterans.

The honor guard initially was on the day shift only but recently expanded to the night shift and Ura has become involved. They honor all veterans not just those of our most recent conflict.
In this case, the veteran is the father of a DL employee and he is being escorted by his grandson who is in the Air Force. A videographer saw one of these ceremonies and asked if he could film one and this is the resulting video
Brian McConnell is the DL employee who is heading this honor guard and he is trying to be sure we also honor the casualties of the Iraq/Afghanistan. I think this is a wonderful thing that was started by employees and makes me proud of DL. Ura has always been involved with things that honor our military like the military lounge DL sets up each Christmas. (in fact that is where he met his wife. They were both volunteering in the lounge). I am very proud of his participation.


Wild Thing's comment......

Note from BobF.. I know both Delta and Northwest Airlines honor our fallen veterans. Northwest was the airline in which did so much to assist Ltc Stroble in taking Chance Phelps home which was portrayed in the movie Taking Chance.

This is so wonderful and I never knew this about Delta or Northwestern Airlines.

.....Thank you BobF, for sending this to me.

1973 - 1999

Posted by Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 08:46 AM


Thanks for this BobF and WT.

When I travelled in uniform during Vietnam, the airlines seemed to be one of the few places where I felt comfortable. My experiences were all favorable from ticket agents to flight crews. That was many different airlines.

We flew the smallest aircraft in Vietnam, the Cessna Birddog. Because we flew over the Mekong Delta, just for laughs we had a bumper sticker on our door that said "Fly Delta's Big Jets". That was Delta Airlines promotion slogan for many years.

Posted by: TomR at August 14, 2009 01:00 PM

Thank you BobF and WT.
Like Tom, I flew in uniform, never had a problem only positive experiences with the airlines, we always flew space available to save taxpayer dollars. Can't say as much for the Grey Dog.
I've flown a lot and many flights had coffins on board in baggage, all were handled with honor, civilian or military, Most of my flights were with Continental, Northwest, Delta, United and Alaska Airlines, all but one have my respect and that airline is Hawaiian Airlines. Thank you Delta Airlines.

Posted by: Jack at August 14, 2009 03:10 PM

In '67 when I came home got discharged in San Francisco, Treasure Island, got mustered blew most of my money on the town and had to fly stand by, because that's All I had left.

At the Airport, they took the passengers that were Coach and First class and their were about a half a dozen of us in Uniform, and about as many hippies. They called the pilot, he said give me those Military Stand-bys first, we'll worry about the other ones later. Don't know if they got on but we did and a couple of us got set in First Class. I think it was AA American Airlines. They were always good to us for sure.

Posted by: Mark at August 14, 2009 07:14 PM

Tom, giggle thanks for sharing about
the sticker.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 10:59 PM

Jack, thanks for sharing about the various

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 11:02 PM

Mark, that was great, I love what the
pilot did.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 14, 2009 11:03 PM