By Jack Graham
most did not know was that the US Army had promised the family members that
they would be taken to
they were informed that the body of their son was being flown to
funeral director felt that unacceptable for a nineteen year old young man that
gave his life for this country and for the freedom of so many others. As a family friend he contacted me to see if
anything could be done. We now had six
hours before GREGORY arrived in
The procession left SP North Syracuse led by eight Syracuse Police Department motorcycles, followed by the hearse, four cars with family members and followed by ten State Police and Syracuse PD cars. How ironic it was that when the procession was traveling parallel to the runway, the plane carrying GREGORY landed next to it. We were able to enter the planes cargo area and remove the shipping crate from the casket and drape the American flag over the casket. When the casket traveled down the conveyor belt, fifteen New York State Troopers and the same amount of Syracuse Policemen lined the path to the awaiting hearse-all at attention. A hand salute was executed as six State Troopers proudly bore the flag draped coffin to the hearse. After a short prayer, the family was given some time to welcome their son home.
The entire airport was so quiet. I looked up at the concourse windows and saw a hundred or more people. They were all standing, watching, with their hands over their hearts, saluting a young man that they did not know. Somehow they learned that a fallen soldier had come home and they wanted to honor his sacrifice.
The casket was then placed in the hearse and the procession left the airport in the same fashion as we arrived, only this time with a young hero that our hearts will never forget.
motorcade was escorted to the thruway entrance by the Syracuse Police
Department's motorcycles. All traffic
was stopped for the procession and we headed east towards Boonville. After getting off the thruway, we found that
every intersection that the procession encountered was controlled by State
Troopers, allowing us a safe, unimpeded passage. At each intersection, the State Trooper stood
at attention, saluting the fallen soldier and his family, giving him and his
family the respect that they deserved.
How emotional that was to see and now to reflect on. When entering the
At the funeral home, eight veterans lifted the casket out of the hearse and into the home with the family. GREGORY had returned home. GREGORY'S family said to me later that the images I have just described will always be etched in their hearts, forever. But the one memory that will always be there first, was of the State Troopers at the airport, standing at attention, saluting, with tears running down their cheeks for their son, a fallen soldier. A hero whom those Troopers never personally knew.
Our jobs take many different avenues in life. We hope that during our day or shift that we have made a difference, a positive contribution. On this occasion you did just that. An entire family knows that you cared to do your very best to honor their son. Their words and expressions told me just that. We made a difference yesterday, and we did it well. The rewards we receive for details like this one do not come from anywhere but from the heart. Take pride in what you accomplished, because it was distinct and without equal in this Trooper's eyes. I have had so many good things happen since I have been a State Trooper, but in those twenty-four years, I have never been more proud of the New York State Police as I was yesterday: a fallen soldier, a hero, a son, a brother has finally come home, in grand deserving style, thanks to all of you.
letter was written by Jack Graham to fellow members of the NY State Police and
to the Syracuse Police who, on