After my fun with the senior Customs official, we all were treated to a coming home dinner in one of the large meeting rooms at the airport – catered by the Morton Field restaurant. All the hi-dollar tables were covered by silk table cloths stacked with the best foods they could serve. I was seated at the head the head table with the girls minus Ching Lee. Mom, Dad, Jake, Mindy, Vance, and his wife, Josh and his girl friend, Bob and Linda Jackson finished out the table. Other tables were seated with the rest of the pilots and college security personnel.
Tonight there was no talk of the upcoming events of tomorrow, it was about the new plane, the Jackson’s trip and Vance’s ribbing me on the after effects of my first takeoff as copilot. The other pilots joined in the good hearted ribbing about how they would be able to take naps in flight now when I was on board to fly the plane. Vicky did not escape the banter by Josh either.
When we finally got home, as late as it was we hugged and expressed intimacy as we normally did and called it a night. Vicky, joined lorry and Marcy in Marcy’s king sized bed and I was finally able to hold Jenny in my arms all night. With all the time changes and day and night changes, I still managed to get up on the right side of daylight. I helped Jenny with a soapy fun filled shower she loved the hot water running on her back as I gave it a generous cleaning with her favorite soap. My first decision of the day was how to dress for today’s solemn task.
Was it to be a business suit or the dress blues? Albert Koons had served 15 years in the army – a soldier’s soldier. There were no blemishes on his military record. Upon his discharge, he continued serving his country by working at our countries Embassies overseas. The dress blues it was; Marcy could represent the company. I would stand with the rest of the JBG honor guard. He was military and we would honor him that way.
Because it was cold and windy and even colder in Lancaster layers were called for; panty hose covered with long johns were a must.
As to the JBG honor guard details, thirty five in-all answered my request for former military with dress uniforms in order to give Albert and Phil the honor they deserved and had responded to Cindy.
I had to give it to the girls and to Jason; they had put together all the logistics to make it happen for me. The last of the thirty five had been picked up at BWI at 8 PM last night. They all had rooms ready for them at the Holiday East Motel on the island.
The Holiday East motel loved us even with the corporate discount they were gave us. They even provided us the direct line to the courtesy van phone for faster pickups and were sending Marcy the number of rooms available each day in an e-mail, if we needed their help.
Our former country ride vans picked up all 35 at the motel and brought them and their baggage to the Morton Field restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast we loaded our baggage into the 200s cargo hold.
We had plenty of time so I called a meeting in room 2. I laid out the events for today and tomorrow as best I knew from combining the information from several e-mails I had received this week.
Then I answered questions about the e-mail that Cindy had sent out about the rapid response team and the 100 new embassy positions. The hazard pay was attracting interest.
After the meeting I gave the pilots the packets containing all the information that they would need to land at Dover AFB. It had the radio frequencies and the transponder numbers and the authorization code. At 9 we boarded the planes for the 30 minute flight.
General McJames’ e-mail confirmed that we had the necessary approval to land both planes at Dover AFB. That the coffins with Albert Koons and Phil Adams remains would be ready for transport at 10AM. The job of the C130 was to carry the remains of Albert Koons to the Lancaster Airport. From there a hearse from Groffs Family Funeral Home will take possession of the casket and deliver it to the funeral home, then carry it to the church.
As for Phil Adams, a hearse from the Smith’s Funeral Home will transport him to their funeral home and then to the VA cemetery for the service.
The C130 was to carry the body and the 200 to carry the girls and the 35 honor guard plus a few people from the office who wanted to participate.
At Dover, the Air Force was going to furnish Military personnel to transfer the caskets – they said it was procedure – after the transfer, the JBG honor guards would carry out that duty.
As an afterthought, just to tweak Hanna – I had sent her a text that JBG was receiving possession of the bodies of our fallen comrades at Dover at 10 AM.
The C130 should arrive at Lancaster by noon. It will be a closed casket, Time of reflection, was at 1 with the funeral at 2, then the internment in the cemetery behind the church.
The process was to be repeated on Thursday at the VFW cemetery at Preston tomorrow for Phil Adams at 1.
We landed without incident and were directed to the area in front of the morgue. The C130 crew dropped the rear door and made ready to receive and tie down the casket. I was standing in the back of the 130 with several of my men watching the things they did.
I noticed a Humvee was headed towards us. I continued observing and counting the jump seats along both sides of the plane. A tap on the shoulder by the 200 pilot, “Boss – BJ, the officer in the Humvee wants to talk to you.”
I met the public relations officer at the Humvee. He filled me in on the policy and procedures that General McJames had already sent me in writing.
Then we were ready. They brought the first flag draped coffin containing the remains of Phil Adams. We lined both sides of the walkway standing at attention. The hearse pulled slowly away.
The flag draped coffin containing the remains of Albert Koons were treated the same. Six Air Force men in dress uniforms carried the coffin through our honor guard and into the plane.
I observed as they tied down as the Albert Koons casket. For a moment I had a flash back to my last few days of my military service, instead of Albert Koons it was Betty in the casket. The vision only lasted a few seconds. I saluted each of the men when they reached the bottom of the ramp. I thanked the Air Force public relations officer for all their assistance.
I announced to the girls that I was going to accompany the body to Lancaster in the C130. “I hope you understand, I’ll see you in Lancaster,” I said to them as I picked up my double computer case, just in case there was another emergency.
Jenny not liking what had just happened volunteered to come with me. I told her no – that the 200 would be a much smoother ride for her and the babies.
I wanted time alone to focus and digest the events of the last week and the next few days. I was wondering what to expect in the Senate hearing on Friday and a dozen other projects that were now important and in the works.
I walked up the rear ramp of the C130 and nodded to the loadmaster to close it. I chose the front jump seat behind the pilot and pulled the lap belt tight.
It was a quick flight; forty five minutes later the rear door was again being lowered after we came to a stop on the tarmac. The JBG honor guard was forming up behind the plane. The hearse and Ching Lee’s Suburban were coming through the tarmac side gate.
The local TV station had a camera crew there as were Hanna and her crew was filming the transfer to the hearse. The honor guard performed perfectly for having no practice.
The Koons family was standing by the hearse as we slid the flag draped coffin in. Once the casket was in the hearse, Ching Lee made the introductions and I expressed my condolences and promised to help in any way I could.
Ching Lee had a dozen rental cars to carry the group to the funeral home. The funeral was tough even though I did not personally know Albert, but we were still extended family.
It was dark when we closed the door on the 200 to head back to Morton field. The C130 had left after the hearse left for the church. It had another no-paperwork flight after it picked up freight in Texas.
Albert Koons had been laid to rest. The family had great support from their extended family and the church community and would get it from JBG.
Tomorrow was more of the same – another funeral – only this time there was no family except JBG. Jenny had tried to find any possible living relatives of Phil Adams. There were none to be found, a family tree in which all the branches had perished. It was so sad. On the good side Jason had found some of Phil’s high school friends and they did the eulogy.
The Phil Adams funeral was a morning funeral at 10 AM and there was only an hour scheduled. It had never occurred to me that so many veterans were passing on from the Great War and Korea that funerals had to be scheduled like that.
We were back by noon and ate lunch at the Morton restaurant. A lot of the guys wanted to know more about the 60 day embassy jobs with hazard pay. I filled in the details as best as I could. I still had not received the detail packet from Amy. I left them with ‘As soon as I get the details you will have them.’ An hour later they were all headed in different directions and home.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.