A group of 13 U.S. Marines on the last leg of their long flight home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan got an unexpected and impromptu tip of the hat Monday from fellow citizens.
American Airlines – which routinely makes unused first class seats available to coach-flying service members – offered up six first class spaces on the final leg of the group’s Chicago-to-San Diego flight back to California. A great gesture, but it still left seven of the soldiers sitting back in coach.
So seven total strangers sitting in paid first class seats all voluntarily swapped places with them – all so the marines could spend a few final hours together before going their separate ways when their flight landed in San Diego.
“It was incredibly touching,” Capt. Pravin Rajan said. “Afghanistan is a very complex and ambiguous war … and a difficult thing to keep track of so it is amazing when we are 10 years [into] a war and there is still that kind of community; that level of support, the level of willingness to go out of one’s way.”
The trip from Chicago to California marked the last leg of a five-day stint of flights to get the soldiers back home.
Not earth-shattering news, but a nice example of how true kindness or love of country is best expressed not when it’s legislated – but when it comes from the hearts of real people.