A Savannah doctor said that she was told not to the sing the national anthem during a Delta flight that was carrying home a fallen Green Beret from Georgia.
Pamela Gaudry, who said she is the wife of a deceased Navy captain veteran, said she decided to honor Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright when she found out that his remains were on a Delta plane from Philadelphia to Atlanta on Sunday. A uniformed officer was accompanying Wright's body.
"I had an idea, it was just one of those spontaneous ideas, that it would be so neat when this soldier stood up, and while the Honor Guard was taking him off, that we should sing the national anthem," Gaudry said.
Gaudry said that she talked to fellow passengers on the plane, many of whom thought it was a good idea.
As the plane began its descent, Gaudry said the chief flight attendant told her that her plans were against company policy.
"She told me that several of the people on the plane were from other countries and that they were uncomfortable with us singing the national anthem," she said.
An announcement told passengers to remain in their seats.
"We all sat in silence as the Honor Guard took the soldier out of the plane," Gaudry said.
In a Facebook video, Gaudry explained the incident and said she had done "the most uncourageous thing" of her life.
"I'm humiliated by my lack of courage to sing the national anthem in my own country, on American soil -- with a deceased soldier on the plane," Gaudry said in the video, which was shot at the airport.
More than 20,000 people had shared the video and nearly 800,000 had watched it as of Monday afternoon.
In a lengthy follow-up post Sunday night, Gaudry said that Delta had contacted her and said "this is NOT their policy."
"Evidently they had a flight attendant that made some bad decisions in trying to make this situation go away," she wrote. "They are going to do some training for the future."
She said that Delta called her twice and apologized.
“They apologized 100 times on the phone, 100 times, just over and over and over, and, 'This was not our policy, she was told by the pilot to not let this happen,' and I guess this is how she figured it would go away," Gaudry said.
Delta confirmed to 11Alive that the company does not have a policy regarding the national anthem, but did not comment on this incident.
"Our employees worldwide take great pride in Delta’s longstanding support of the military," the company said in a statement. "The respectful ceremony of the Delta Honor Guard is one symbol of Delta’s pledge to the men and women of the armed forces, and it represents our broad commitment to our veterans and active-duty service members."
Gaudry said that she wasn't in favor of a Delta boycott.
"Delta was very reverent and let the Honor Guards do a wonderful thing to honor each and every soldier that comes home with this beautiful tribute," she wrote.
Gaudry wrote that that Wright's family had contacted her and were "appreciative" of her effort.
Wright, of Lyons, Ga., was one of four members of the U.S. Special Forces killed in the line of duty by Islamic extremists in Niger. He was 29.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported this story.
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