7 First-Class Passengers Give Up Seats To Marines Returning From - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

7 First-Class Passengers Give Up Seats To Marines Returning From Afghanistan

Posted: Updated:

KHQ.COM - Fourteen Marines on their way home from serving in Afghanistan were upgraded to first class on their flight from Chicago to San Diego.

The Marines learned that American Airlines - which has a policy to upgrade servicemen and women in uniform whenever possible - had six empty seats in first class for the group. That gesture was followed by seven first-class passengers who jumped out of their seats for the other Marines so they could sit together.

"It was incredibly touching," Capt. Pravin Rajan said in a telephone interview from Camp Pendleton in California. "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 welcome home started with a phone call. Stephanie Hare, a native of Illinois who now works in England, called the USO at O'Hare and explained that her fiance, Rajan, who had served seven months in Afghanistan, was with a dozen other Marines on a plane bound for Chicago from Baltimore.

"I just thought if they could get them some Chicago pizza, champagne or something, that would mean a lot," she said.

On the other end of the line was John Colas, a 74-year-old former Marine USO volunteer. He told Hare he'd try to do something in the hour or so before the flight landed. But he cautioned that while volunteers make an effort to welcome military personnel whenever they come through the airport, he wasn't sure he could pull anything off in such a short time.

Colas got on the phone with the police and fire departments, the airlines and anyone else he could think of.

"There must have been 15 Chicago firemen and an equal number of Chicago police and they formed a corridor for the Marines when they got off the airplane," he said.

Rajan said the Marines didn't know what to make of it, starting with the slightly unnerving experience of looking out a plane window to see a fire truck.

"For a second, we were like, 'Are we in trouble?'" he said.

After they realized the reception was for them, the Marines soaked in the scene, even as they said police officers hustled them off to another gate so they'd make their flight to San Diego.

"They were just so thankful - very, very appreciative," said Linda Kozma, an American Airlines employee who helps military personnel flying in and out of O'Hare.

Hare didn't know about any of it until she woke up Tuesday and heard Rajan relating the whole story in a voice mail.

"I just thought it was really beautiful," she said.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd

    Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd

    Thursday, November 23 2017 2:00 AM EST2017-11-23 07:00:14 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>
  • Commission alerted to review allegations against TripAdvisor

    Commission alerted to review allegations against TripAdvisor

    Thursday, November 23 2017 1:07 AM EST2017-11-23 06:07:07 GMT

    BOSTON (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission could take action against TripAdvisor after the Massachusetts-based travel company was accused of deleting hotel reviews that contained allegations of rape and other crimes. Several people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month they were sexually assaulted at Mexican hotels and resorts but the online reviews that mentioned the crimes were taken down. The Boston Globe says after the report was published Democratic Wi...

    More >>

    BOSTON (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission could take action against TripAdvisor after the Massachusetts-based travel company was accused of deleting hotel reviews that contained allegations of rape and other crimes. Several people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month they were sexually assaulted at Mexican hotels and resorts but the online reviews that mentioned the crimes were taken down. The Boston Globe says after the report was published Democratic Wi...

    More >>
  • The Latest: States investigate Uber over massive data breach

    The Latest: States investigate Uber over massive data breach

    Wednesday, November 22 2017 9:22 PM EST2017-11-23 02:22:07 GMT

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on the data breach at Uber (all times local):  6:30 p.m. More U.S. states say they're investigating Uber over the ride-hailing company's massive data breach.    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, sent a letter Wednesday telling Uber to notify customers if their personal information might have been affected and demanding that the ride-hailing company make changes to protect data.    Massachusetts Attorney ...

    More >>

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on the data breach at Uber (all times local):  6:30 p.m. More U.S. states say they're investigating Uber over the ride-hailing company's massive data breach.    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, sent a letter Wednesday telling Uber to notify customers if their personal information might have been affected and demanding that the ride-hailing company make changes to protect data.    Massachusetts Attorney ...

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Moses Lake woman arrested for attempting to sell stolen pocket watches online

    Moses Lake woman arrested for attempting to sell stolen pocket watches online

    Thursday, November 23 2017 2:11 AM EST2017-11-23 07:11:18 GMT

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Moses Lake Police Officers arrested 21-year-old Brittany Strong Wednesday morning after she attempted to sell stolen property via a Facebook buy and sell page. Just a week ago today she was arrested for stealing hundreds of pieces of mail in the Peninsula area of Moses Lake. Officers say they received several tips from our Facebook readers Tuesday that Strong was trying to sell two antique gold watches. 

    More >>

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Moses Lake Police Officers arrested 21-year-old Brittany Strong Wednesday morning after she attempted to sell stolen property via a Facebook buy and sell page. Just a week ago today she was arrested for stealing hundreds of pieces of mail in the Peninsula area of Moses Lake. Officers say they received several tips from our Facebook readers Tuesday that Strong was trying to sell two antique gold watches. 

    More >>
  • Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd

    Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd

    Thursday, November 23 2017 2:00 AM EST2017-11-23 07:00:14 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, November 22nd.

    More >>
  • Balloons, Broadway stars and security at Macy's parade

    Balloons, Broadway stars and security at Macy's parade

    Thursday, November 23 2017 1:28 AM EST2017-11-23 06:28:32 GMT

    NEW YORK (AP) - New faces and old favorites will fly, float and march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And police are going all-out to secure it in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gathering spots.    The parade steps off Thursday with marching bands, performers from Broadway hits, elaborate floats and signature giant balloons.

    More >>

    NEW YORK (AP) - New faces and old favorites will fly, float and march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And police are going all-out to secure it in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gathering spots.    The parade steps off Thursday with marching bands, performers from Broadway hits, elaborate floats and signature giant balloons.

    More >>