It was the last mass casualty event during our 20-year war in Afghanistan — 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide attack at the Kabul airport, along with more than 160 Afghans.
The attack shook the United States and our allies to the core, particularly coming after the chaotic fall of the country to the Taliban.
While there may be no way to sufficiently honor those who paid the ultimate price during the Aug. 26 bombing, an unknown pilot is making the rounds on TikTok and Facebook for his fitting dedication to our heroes.
The video was posted to Facebook by Ryan Fournier, the founder of Students for Trump. However, it appears to have originated on TikTok, where it was uploaded by @roballnic1.
While the details surrounding the video are scanty — where and when it was recorded, who recorded it, who the pilot was — it’s the type of video that would be difficult to fake unless you have a spare Boeing 737 hanging around.
What is clear from the video is that the pilot begins by saying, “We’re heading down to Houston, it should take us two hours and 27 minutes. The weather’s good, weather’s good, the ride should be good.”
As he was saying that, however, he was holding up a tablet with the pictures of some of the 11 Marines, one soldier and one sailor from the Kabul bombing.
“I’ve got six more days left here at Southwest Airlines, I have to retire because I’m 65 years old,” he said to applause.
“I’ll keep flying. And every time I fly now, I want to dedicate our flight and my trip to the 13 senseless losses of soldiers, sailors, Marines,” he continued.
“Men and women. My brother Marines, my sister Marines.”
This elicited a “hoo-rah” from the cabin.
“Everybody, just remember them,” he added. “And I don’t care who you hated or who you liked in the last election. What happened was just wrong.”
This got some assent from the cabin, too. He finished the preflight speech by saying, “We’ll get going. Smiles, everybody. And … remember the 13.”
With that, the pilot got a round of applause.
While the text overlaid on the original TikTok video said this was the pilot’s last flight, there’s no evidence of that in the video or in other reports. Given that he said he had six days left with the company and that “I’ll keep flying,” this seems unlikely.
However, the video also seems equally unlikely to be fakery.
It’s difficult to say that the deaths of 13 American service members in a suicide attack carried out by a branch of the Islamic State group could get lost in the shuffle, per se. However, there was so much senseless tragedy surrounding the fall of Afghanistan and our hasty withdrawal from the country that it was almost an afterthought. The whole affair stunned the nation and the world.
It’s not as if the men and women who were killed in the attack didn’t have their lives celebrated. This was the hometown welcome for Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum in Jackson, Wyoming:
Jackson welcomes home the family of Rylee McCollum, one of the thirteen service people killed in Afghanistan last week. pic.twitter.com/fvimtSFCPS
— Alexander Shur (@AlexBShur1) August 30, 2021
However, it’s acts like these that go viral — and like it or not, social media status is currency these days.
This pilot, whoever he may be, made sure to spend that currency in the best way possible.
We may never know who he was. Rest assured, however, plenty of people will remember what he said.
If you’re going to mark one of your last flights piloting a commercial jet in a profound way, it’s hard to think of how you could do it better than this. Our hats are off to you, sir.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.