The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Tony D. Strauss
Contributing writer 

Another Fallen Hero Honor Cart to pass through Tehachapi

 

Bill Horton, American Legion Riders

The Fallen Hero Honor Carts are painted blue, with American flag curtains, and display the military insignias of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

It's been almost a year since more than 70 motorcycles rumbled into the Tehachapi Love's Travel Stop, escorting an Alaska Airlines truck with a special cart in tow. A crowd of fascinated onlookers, cheering and waving American flags, had lined the sidewalks and parking lot to greet the procession.

Veterans, youth groups, and members of the community had come to witness the transfer of a special cart known as Alaska Airlines "Fallen Soldier Cart". The turnout in Tehachapi was reported by one airline employee as the largest he had seen.

The remains of our nation's fallen service members travel home aboard aircraft in flag-draped coffins to their final resting place. The Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program was started by a group of maintenance employees in 2011, who believed that the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice deserved special care and attention upon their return to their respective burial sites.

The group volunteered to design and build a cart dedicated solely to transporting fallen soldiers. They also developed protocol for the loading and unloading to ensure our heroes' remains are handled with dignity and honor. The entire flight crew is included in the protocol.

The carts are painted blue, with American flag curtains, and display the military insignias of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. On the top of the cart is a large emblem that says "Alaska Airlines Honoring the Fallen" along with a star and emblems for the five armed services. The interior has red carpet and the insignias of the Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard.

Once renovation is complete, the carts are donated to airports to be used specifically for off-loading and transporting the remains of our fallen heroes.

The Alaska Airlines volunteers are making sure the fallen continue to be treated with dignity and respect by dedicating a customized patriotic cart to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The volunteers will be transporting the cart on a 1,163-mile journey from Seattle to Ontario, Calif., with a special escort of motorcycle riders. The group will depart Seattle on May 11 and arrive in Ontario on May 14.

The procession of riders will include members of the Patriot Guard Riders, American Legion Riders, various other veterans groups, and anyone else wishing to join along the way.

The volunteers and riders will be making a brief stop at the Tehachapi Love's Travel Stop on Sunday, May 14 at approximately 9:15 a.m.

This leg of their journey will again be sponsored by Tehachapi American Legion Post 221. The Post encourages members of the community to come out with their American flags to show their support and patriotism.

Once in Ontario, the volunteers and riders will join a motorcycle event called "Run for The Wall" (rftw.org). The Run is a journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., calling for an accounting of all Prisoners of War, those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), and to honor those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars.

During their journey across the U.S., the group will stop in Dallas, where the cart will be donated to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

According to information obtained from the Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program website, Dallas/Fort Worth will be the eighth city to receive a Fallen Soldier Cart. They are also in place at Anchorage, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. airports.

The cart will remain in the care of Alaska Airlines but will be available for any airline at Dallas/Fort Worth to use.

 
 

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