Father’s Day was made extra special for some soldiers arriving home via MSP. Thanks to the tireless efforts of a helpful friend with American Airlines, Debra Cain of the Armed Forces Service Center was informed that there were 18 soldiers coming home on leave from Iraq on Father’s Day. After making a few calls for volunteers, the volunteer group (Janis Eastman, Teri Wold and Debra) managed to arrive at the gate in advance of their arrival.
As the soldiers exited the plane, the passengers at the surrounding gates began to applaud. Service Center volunteers pulled four soldiers aside, knowing they had connecting NWA flights at 9:30pm. “When we approached the NWA ticket area, the agent directed us to go to the first class counter,” Debra explained. “As we waited we noticed there was a gentleman standing at the first class counter. When the agent called for the next passenger, off we went.”
“Just as I was began to tell the ticket agent that we were trying to get these soldiers on an earlier flight, the gentleman interrupted and asked, ‘First class?’ I said no, they’re flying coach. He replied, ‘I will pay to fly them first class!'”
Out of the four soldiers, the generous gentleman paid for three to fly home (to North Dakota and South Dakota) first class. He would have paid for all four, but the fourth soldier was connecting to an Airlink flight and first class was not available.
Not only were all four soldiers able to depart MSP by 6:00p.m., (well ahead of their original 9:30 p.m. departure) they all arrived home with a big smiles on their faces, and a memorable experience at MSP Airport (thanks to the AFSC)!