Delta Airlines employees were filmed honoring a fallen soldier and his K9 friend when their remains were transported to an airport in Atlanta.
In the video below, Delta staff pay tribute to a soldier and his bomb-sniffing dog, who were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED), by performing a ceremony when their remains arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
According to the Daily Mail, Delta Airlines has been honoring fallen soldiers for 10 years, and very few people know about it.
On their return to the United States, both the soldier and his K9 companion were saluted by a group of volunteers from the Delta Honor Guard service.
The bag handlers stand at attention, holding flags representing each branch of the military as the caskets are lowered onto the tarmac. A prayer is read before employees transfer the cargo into a special flag-painted cart, as travelers can be seen filming and observing from the windows above.
Former Delta baggage handler and military veteran, Thomas Schenk, started the tradition in 2005.
“I still get nervous every time I do one,” Brian McConnell, a Delta employee who has been involved with the Honor Guard service since 2006, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2010. “I have to catch my breath.”
McConnell, who took over the coordination of the ceremonies in 2008, added that it’s the employees’ way of serving their country.
“I came from a family of servicemen. My father and uncles all served an my eldest son today continues his active duty service in the United States Air Force,” he said in a report about the ceremonies. “I have never had the honor of service but this is my way of serving and my way preserving the dignity and honor of those who have served.”