Since our airport is so close to the Army Post here I see lots of "moments" in the lives of soldier and their families. I am always so sad when the families come in and you know their soldier is going back from R&R, you can tell how hard it is for them to say goodbye and it always tugs at my heart strings to watch them in their final moments before they leave. I try to let the soldiers go through security very last so they can have as long as possible with their loved ones and then per our company policy they are always invited to board the plane with our Premium passengers. I love the days when soldiers come home for R&R and the waiting room is full of families with flowers, ballons, signs, and anxious wives, I cannot tell you how many times I have reassured a wife that she looks perfect and showed her where to stand so she will see her husband as soon as he gets off the plane, it is really such a heart warming experience to see them reunited and happy.
But then there have been two times in the last month that were so hard. the first was when a soldier escourted in a very distraught women and told me that she was the wife of a fallen soldier, she was on her way to escort her husbands body home, I did not know this women, I did not know her husband but my heart just broke to see her. Today another set of officers walked up to my counter to tell me our plane had the sister of a fallen soldier on it, they had the parents there with them and were waiting to meet her, they asked if we could get her off the plane first so she could get to her family without having to wait in the crowd, so of course I notified the captain of the plane who then notified the flight attendant and I was able to meet her at the plane and escourt her to her family, I cannot tell you how hard it was to see her hug her Mom and just break down. I do not know this soldier, I am not even sure of his name, but all the same I feel for his family, it brought tears to my eyes to see them, I had to take a minute prior to finishing the flight.
With deployment looming over us, having a husband and a brother and now numerous friends in the military seeing first hand the families of fallen soldiers makes you realize how easily it could be me, and makes you appriciate all the more the sacrifices our military and their families makes everyday.
I know I will say and extra prayer tonight for these families and I know they will be in my thoughts for a very long time.