Travel Is Half The Journey

Attending IFSEC isn’t always easy, but it is worth the journey. Generally, when reporting from a tradeshow, I like to wait until the first day has concluded, then report. But I want to share part of the journey to Birmingham, U.K.

For this work assignment, I flew from Dallas to Houston. While waiting to embark from Houston, an announcement came over the intercom at gate 25.

The announcement was to inform all passengers to Houston that we would be sharing the flight with SPC Anthony Perez. It was his final journey home.

Army Sgt. Daemon Hunter had been given the difficult, yet honorable job of escorting his comrade to Houston. Perez had been assigned to the 101st Infantry Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky. Perez had been serving in Afghanistan when he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

Perez was serving our country, and like many before him, had given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Perez is a hero.

When the announcement came to those of us waiting for the flight to Houston, we stood in reverence to honor Perez. A few American Airlines employees, many of whom are veterans themselves, as well as members of the USO, DFW Chaplain Services and members of the North Texas Patriot Guard, formed an honor line along side the plane as Perez’ casket was transferred onto the aircraft.

It was quiet inside the terminal as his final remains were placed inside the belly of the aircraft. A few minutes later we landed in Houston. Not a sound was heard inside the airplane as it taxied to the gate, and as the airport fire department washed the plane in Perez’ honor. Other Houston fire fighters and police stood at attend on the opposite side of the airplane. A color guard transferred his flag-draped casket to the awaiting hearse.

I watched the family, who stood outside the stilled aircraft. Tears soaked their cheeks, then splashed on the ground as Perez was taken from the conveyor belt to the hearse. His mother cried uncontrollably, but comforted by another loved one. My fellow mates on the plane craned their necks to catch a glimpse of our hero, at final rest.

Think of what you have to do today. Freedom is not free. Many have paid the price; their own lives cut short of goals and aspirations, that we might fulfill our own dreams. Perez is one of many that have given selflessly, his blood staining foreign soil, so that our hopes can be realized in America.

May we keep our military members and their families in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to serve and defend our great nation.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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