Red Shirt

Red Shirt

   If the red shirt thing is new to you, read below how it went for a man... 

Last week, while traveling to Toronto on business, I noticed an army sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together.

After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class ( across from me), and inquired if he was heading home. 

 'No', he responded. 

'Heading out', I asked? 

'No. I'm escorting a soldier home.'

'Going to pick him up?'

'No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Afganistan, I'm taking him home to his family.'

The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family and felt as if he knew them after many conversations in so few days. 

I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, 'Thank you.. Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do.'

Upon landing in  Toronto , the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom. 

'Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the Canadian Armed Forces join us on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door to allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign.'

Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize that I am proud to be a Canadian. 

So here's a public Thank You to our military Men and Women for what you do so we can live the way we do. 

Red Fridays. 

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Canadians who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority.' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. 

Many Canadians, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Canadians supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded Canadian who supports our men and women afar, will wear something red.   

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make  Canada on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming Hockey game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the  Canada is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on. 

The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is 'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.

Great Story.

Excellent post. I will be wearing red every Friday from now on.


The procession to the Toronto Coroner's Office for three of the most recent deaths passed by my window downtown last week. Nobody knew it was coming, and people were clapping along the sides of the busy street at the end of the workday.

Umm, I am all for our troops - I served in the reserves and have a poppy tattoo - but I'm quite sure this is another urban myth being circulated as truth! I think I've heard a similar story told about a US Marine.

And, our heroic, beloved war dead aren't flown to Toronto; they're repatriated in Trenton and driven by procession along the Highway of Heroes...

Yes this one has been around, but still a good one :rockin:

Email forwards like this one may be created with good intentions, but they often have such a smarmy, condescending tone that you can tell it's bogus before you get past the first paragraph. I don't get why people try to write such a thing in the style of a parable and use such stilted language to describe events.

Even on occasions where I agree in principle with the point the writer is trying to make, I think items written in this style tend to come across as phony and an insult to the intelligence of the reader. It feels like a pitch from a car salesman who smiles too much and keeps repeating your name.

It feels like a pitch from a car salesman who smiles too much and keeps repeating your name.
Well, I guess I won't be working as a used car salesperson anytime soon. I have a chronic habit of forgetting people's names 2 minutes after I'm introduced to them.

It's embarrassing and I don't know how to correct it.

Sorry to swerve off-topic, but the following link may be useful re: remembering names. Incidentally, I read once that the number one reason people tend not to remember names is not that they've truly "forgotten" but that they tend not to pay close enough attention to make mental note of the name when they are first introduced. The link has some tricks that may help with committing peoples' names to memory.

Thanks. I appreciate that. I'll read that site.

And you're correct. It's my fault because I don't pay attention. My memory is otherwise very good.

Sorry to everyone for going off-topic.

Yes, it does sound like a VERY good story and is pretty moving... but I have big doubts about the truth of it.

None the less.... it was a nice piece.

Umm, I am all for our troops - I served in the reserves and have a poppy tattoo - but I'm quite sure this is another urban myth being circulated as truth! I think I've heard a similar story told about a US Marine.

And, our heroic, beloved war dead aren't flown to Toronto; they're repatriated in Trenton and driven by procession along the Highway of Heroes...

Actually UB40, this story is 100% accurate... Air Canada flies many of our fallen soldiers out of Toronto after they have been repatriated and are ready to fly to their final resting place. I have personally been on board a flight departing Toronto for Montreal when I saw the specially prepared caskets of our fallen soldiers being prepared for loading onto a Montreal bound flight. A very sobering moment.

There was an excellent article in Air Canada's magazine called Horizons that talked about the tremendous respect and courtesy that Air Canada has shown towards all members of our military.

Here it is if you would like to read it:

Author’s note: In telling a story like this, there is always a risk that someone crucial will be left out. Even though only three employees
are mentioned by name in this article, every single person I talked to stressed first and foremost that it is a colossal team effort. GC.

Fallen but not forgotten
In most airports, only one thing can
bring an entire operating ramp to a
halt: Lightning. But in Toronto Pearson,
there are two: Lightning, and a fallen
Canadian soldier being carried home
for the last time.

No one can say exactly when it started,
but they all remember how. Handling human
remains is sadly a regular occurrence for
the Cargo team, and they have long had a
respectful process in place for the carriage
of the deceased. One day a few years back,
Nick Wasielewitsch answered the phone
and was told there was a casket to handle
that day. But this one carried a Canadian
soldier who had recently been killed on tour.
“He was going to be flown out on a 320,
so we got out one of our regular PKC folding
units,? recalls Nick. “I looked at it, and even
though it was perfectly clean and fine for a
regular day, it just seemed that to carry the
body of a hero, it should be made to shine.?
Nick’s feelings were shared by several
others, so with some help he power-washed
and polished the unit until it sparkled.
Caskets are put on skids to help with balance,
but the gang felt the wooden skids
looked too industrial. So Nick found some
silver paper to wrap the skids, taped it up,
and made sure it looked neat and clean.
“Respectable,? is how he describes it. “I
mean, this is Air Canada. We are carrying a
fallen soldier. He gave his life for our country;
we can give him a respectful carriage.?
And so began the “Ramp Ceremony.?
Now when they receive word that they will
be transporting a fallen soldier, the Cargo
team as well as many others are ready.
When a soldier is killed in battle or on
tour, the remains are flown to Trenton,
Ontario aboard military aircraft. They are
accompanied by another soldier, usually a
friend, of equal or lower rank. From Trenton,
they are taken to the coroner in Toronto
where a funeral director arranges to transport
the body to Toronto Airport. Air Canada
then flies the deceased to wherever they are
going to be buried.

It’s not just clean equipment that goes
into transporting a fallen soldier onto an
Air Canada aircraft.
Jason Hay was the STOC Coordinator
when the Ramp Ceremony started up,
and has taken on the communications
“I hear from Corporate Security, or sometimes
from the funeral home, that we will be
transporting a fallen soldier. Once I get word,
I make sure everyone who wants to know
A lot of people want to know – John
Collins was one of the first to get involved,
and takes care of making sure the right
equipment is available, while Jason looks
into having the accompanying soldier
upgraded, gets bag tags from Concierge,
and meets everyone else on the ramp.
“We are able to escort the accompanying
soldier from the ramp; he doesn’t have to
go up through the airport. We have CATSA,
GTAA, GARDA, and everyone else we need
to screen them on the ramp,? says Jason.

It is John who drives the accompanying
soldier across the ramp.
“We have roadways we always follow; we
don’t have radios to the tower so we must
stay on track. Once we get to the gate, the
GTAA veer off and I bring in the van. It’s
pretty solemn. Everything just stops as we
pass. All the fire department, all the police,
the military, even pilots come out to salute
as we drive by. They hold a spontaneous
Honour Guard until he is onboard.
“Watching a 767 fall into procession behind
a van carrying a surviving soldier who
is travelling home with his deceased buddy
– it’s something else.?
As time has gone on, more and more
Air Canada employees have heard about
the Ramp Ceremony and found ways to
get involved. One person started making
skids from materials he paid for from his
own pocket. Several others helped him finish
them. Lots more go out and buy flags to
carry or adorn the ramp. And still someone
else special-orders cargo straps that are
clean and white. Many help out on their
lunch breaks. Others show up whether they
are working that day or not.
“Even people who can’t be right here are
still helping,? John says. “For example, while
I’m doing my part with the ceremony, someone
else is covering my shift. We can’t just
stop the whole operation, so even colleagues
who aren’t out here are still helping.?

Station Attendant John Collins wears a vest supporting our troops.
Asked why he thinks so many people
put in the effort, Jason says “Well for one
thing, we are Canadians and we work at
Air Canada. There is a lot of pride with that.
But mostly, we have a lot of employees here
who have sons and daughters in the military.
Many have even served themselves, or are
in the Reserves now. It’s a sign of respect for
our colleagues.?
Nodding, John adds “I think we are all
also thinking of the family of the fallen. They
almost never see the ceremony, but even
if they don’t, I just want to help give them
peace of mind that their son or daughter is
being honoured and taken care of.?
In addition to all the employees who are
involved in carrying out the Ramp Ceremony,
even more have written letters to Montie
commending the team, or posted messages
on the blog to say how proud they are of
their colleagues. But no one seems to want
to own the effort, and all praise is humbly
shrugged off.
“We don’t do it to be thanked,? John
explains. “The accompanying soldiers are
always so grateful. But we keep telling them,
don’t thank us. Just tell your buddies in
Kandahar what you’ve seen here. Tell them
that Air Canada is still here for them.?
“I think it’s pretty amazing for us to be
able to do this,? Jason reflects. “I can’t think
of many other jobs that would even have
this opportunity. We all feel so strongly
about it. No one told us to do it. We just
took it on.?
“You know, something else always strikes
me,? John begins. “I don’t think a soldier
could possibly notice this, but during the
ceremony all our divisions are gone. We are
just one little Canada. When we are out
there, on the ramp with a deceased soldier
and his buddy, we are not STOC and Cargo
and Ramp. We are Air Canada. All of us.?

From the December/January 2009 Magazine. Horizons is an employee magazine for Air Canada.

I have proudly served in the military for 12 years and have been employed by Air Canada for the last 13.

Per Ardua Ad Astra.

100% accurate? Here:

... read the second story! Sound familiar? And, I've heard it as a Vietnam-Era tale too!

I love what our troops are doing for us but these little stories are so easy to spot. No doubt, something along these lines may have actually happened once, but, sadly, not in Toronto!

I think we're missing the point if we think these stories are untrue. So what? The point is that we are losing soldiers in the war in Afghanistan and we owe it to each of them to remember their great sacrifices on our behalf.

I read on an earlier site, that "Nobody made these soldiers join the Canadian Armed Forces". This is true; however and even more importantly, they DID join in the interest of keeping the rest of us safe. This is an even more valid reason to support these men and women who risk their lives for us every day.

Even if you don't believe in the cause of fighting the Taliban and El Queda, these cowardly rag-tag armies that hit and run with their IEDs, Our troops are fighting these bastards on our behalf. Support them and stop trying to pick holes in these stories designed with the intention of making us think about them and our sacred freedom.

I will wear red on Fridays and if this idea is an urban legend or myth, so what? This would be a nice way to remember them and commemorate their heroism.

Keep this movement going!

I am the one that mentioned that Solider are not forced to join... but that's from a different board and was written with a different context.

Basically my stance is this... Support the Troops if you want to. If you don't want to... don't.

I'm just not a fan of people shoving their believes down other peoples throats.

You can say it loud and proud that you Support the Troops. You have that right. You also have the right to do the exact opposite. I just ask that you don't force your opinions on people.

I Support our Troops... but I wear green on Fridays... except during PT... I wear Blue for PT. LOL :slight_smile:

And for a little side note...

With the decline in the economy and so many job losses...

The Canadian Forces are hiring...

Where else can you get a 25-year-job with FULL benefits (for you and your family), they PAY you to keep in shape, you AUTOMATICALLY get 4 weeks paid vacation, and one of the best pensions in Canada?

Heck, you get PAID to go camping (albeit with a machine gun... lol)!

The "so what?" factor is that fabricating such stories demonstrates the willingness of some people to deceive in order to provoke an emotional response from the reader in order to build support for the author's beliefs. The general term for such deception is "propaganda". Causes which are worthy of our support can be expressed without the need for emotional button-pushing and brainwashing. It diminishes the credibilty of a cause when its supporters stoop to such manipulative tactics. People who genuinely support a worthy cause tend to be embarrassed and upset when they see manipulative tripe put forward as justification for their cause.

If we shut off our critical thinking simply because we're inclined to align ourselves with the beliefs of the author, we expose ourselves to the potential for accepting increasingly inauthentic and misleading claims as truth. That is the path to tyranny.

UB40 and Safetyblitz;

Take whatever you want from this topic.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that this story is NOT fabricated. I have no reason to lie about this and I would be incredibly ashamed if I did lie about ANYTHING regarding our fallen soldiers. Air Canada flies our fallen to all points of the country from Toronto. FACT.


You are right! The forces are not for everybody and I certainly wasn't sure whether it would a good choice for me but in the end I must say it was the most rewarding and challenging experience that I was ever fortunate enough to be part of...
BTW, a full pension requires a career of 35 yrs.

We live in a free country because of the sacrifices that our military has made in the past. Freedom includes your right to agree or disagree with ideas such as the Red Shirt.