Kansas City, Mo. — Alaska Airlines employees held a hand-off ceremony today for a new Fallen Soldier Cart based at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). This is the 12th cart crafted by Alaska Airlines maintenance employees to honor all fallen military members and the first to be delivered after a pause during the pandemic. It’s used to transport the remains of the deceased with respect and honor to and from the aircraft.
This particular cart is special for the members of the Alaska Airlines Fallen Soldier Program. It was designed and crafted to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of an Alaska Airlines’ employee and her son.
“Four years ago, we flew a fallen military member out of the Kansas City Airport, Specialist Hunter Schmidtke, the son of our very own flight attendant, Julia,” said Kevin Kruse, Alaska Airlines airframe and powerplant trainer and Fallen Soldier Program member. “Hunter passed while serving at Fort Riley and our Alaska Airlines team was there to bring him home to family and friends. Kansas City holds a special place for our fallen soldier team members and this cart is crafted to honor him, his family and every military member taking their final journey.”
This one-of-a-kind cart is specifically designed with an interior plaque dedicated to Army SPC Hunter Schmidtke and to honor Alaska Airlines flight attendant and Gold Star mother Julia Schmidtke. With blue paint, red carpet and American flag curtains, the customized cart’s exterior also features plaques representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
“Kansas City International Airport is proud to support arrivals and departures of our nation’s fallen military members,” said Ian Redhead, deputy director of aviation – operations and maintenance for the Kansas City Aviation Department. “The Fallen Soldier Cart will add a degree of dignity and patriotism when our heroes are transported here. We thank Alaska Airlines for their generosity and dedication to the fallen.”
In May 2011, Alaska Airlines employees developed a structured Fallen Soldier Program to ensure strict military protocols are followed when transporting a fallen soldier. From this program, Alaska Airlines employees designed the Fallen Soldier Carts.
For more information on the Alaska Airlines’ Fallen Soldier Cart and Fallen Soldier Program please visit our blog.