28 September 2005

"We have an Angel on this Flight"

From the September 26, 2005 Boston Globe, written by Adrienne P. Samuels of the Globe Staff.

When Delta Flight 1880 landed late Saturday at Logan International Airport, the pilot went on the intercom to make a request of the passengers preparing to grab their carry-on bags: Sit for a moment and honor a fallen soldier.

''The pilot said, 'We have a hero on this flight and sadly, he isn't with us, but his mother is escorting his remains,' " said Barbara Bell, sister of Sergeant Pierre A. Raymond, 28, an Army reservist from Lawrence who died Tuesday in Germany after being wounded in Iraq.

The normal bustle of an emptying airplane immediately ceased, she said.

''He went on to say that 'a sergeant from the Army is escorting them as well', and then [the pilot] thanked him for doing what he did and for keeping us safe and free."

As Raymond's mother, Santina, got up to walk off the plane, her fellow passengers gave her a standing ovation.

''I was thankful that he was remembered like he was angel," said Santina Raymond, who spent yesterday at her Lawrence home preparing for her son's funeral on Wednesday. ''He was a hero, so everybody cheered. It was wonderful. He was wonderful."

Pierre Raymond died from injuries sustained after a Sept. 15 attack near Ramadi, Iraq, where he was hit in the chest and neck with flying shrapnel while in his sleeping quarters. Immediately after he was wounded, Raymond was talking and even flirting with the nurses who treated him, said Bell, who lives in Palo Alto, Calif. But military doctors in Iraq couldn't stop the bleeding and sent Raymond to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for emergency treatment, where he was kept alive until his family arrived.

''We were all flown out on military orders," said Bell, also a former reservist.

The family stayed at Raymond's side during his last hours.

''Pierre just had this capacity that very few people have. . . . This capacity for life," said Bell, 30. ''Even as a kid, we don't have many family photos of him because he was always running in the park."

Godspeed SGT Raymond.

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