Picking Up Human Remains at the Savannah Airport

Diatribes of a Knucklehead

Many Veterans, to include me, get disgruntled about the fact that most American civilians have no respect for the military; other than lip service.  So why do we feel this way?  I know why; because if you use the news media and Hollywood to gauge public opinion, you are crazy.

Here is an example of the REAL American public:

One evening one of my Marines, SSgt Ricky M., and I had to go to the Savannah Airport to pick up human remains; in an Urn.  SSgt M. stopped outside the baggage area and parked along the curb.  He remained with the vehicle so we would not have to move from the tow away zone.  I went inside and headed for the appropriate gate.

Things did not start out well.  Even though I was in full dress blues and the airport personnel know I was coming for the remains a female TSA agent stopped me for over 30 minutes.  Obviously, my uniform and all its trinkets set off the metal detector’s alarm; that was expected.  The TSA agent took me into the middle and started using a hand help metal detector on me.  She was not happy and told me to remove my shoes, then coat, which is when I lost it.  I said, stop; get your supervisor over here right now.  The supervisor came over and I was allowed to go through right away.

I arrived at the gate just before the jet way was extended.  I put on my white gloves and cover (hat) and stood at attention awaiting the MSgt who was escorting and the Urn.  When the escort got to me with the Urn (which was made of brass and weighed about 40 pounds) we turned and began our journey through the airport to the baggage claim area where SSgt M. was waiting.

This is where we were able to see what the American public was all about.  There was no announcement from the airport staff, just two Marines walking down the hall with an Urn; containing the remains of one of our fallen hero EOD techs.  It started slowly.  One group of civilians saw us and obviously figured it out; they moved out of our way and placed their right hands over their hearts.  Then it was like watching dominoes fall; one after another people moved against the wall to give us room and most placed their hands over their hearts; many with tears in their eyes.  These were true Americans who do love and respect our military.

When we exited the baggage area, we placed the Urn in the van and all sat at attention as we were leaving.

As we were departing, we saw a young soldier, an army General’s driver, waiting at his official vehicle.  He turned towards us and saluted with tears rolling down his face.

We were not just bringing home our brother; we were bringing home his brother too – brother warrior – Respect.

Image is of one of my old friends; RIP Javier

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By David Devaney

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

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