A Very Different Homecoming

Johnny recently met passenger Julie Taylor on a flight to Miami. She told him this story and showed him this picture. He was so moved by the tale, he asked if he could share it with all of you. Here, in her own words, is Julie’s story.

On December 23, my husband, two daughters and I flew from Los Angeles to Boston on American Airlines Flight 222. The pilot announced today we had a USMC soldier on board who was accompanied by another marine en route “home.”

My family was en route home to meet my one month old nephew and to celebrate Christmas. Upon arrival at Boston Logan, the pilot announced our flight was being greeted by many people.  I wasn’t prepared for the sad reality of our arrival.  The crew of American Airlines Flight 222 did a most outstanding and respectful job for our fellow passenger, the fallen USMC Soldier.

They asked all passengers to wait to deplane until the USMC soldier accompanying the fallen soldier deplaned.  As our family and all passengers on flight 222 entered the terminal, we joined hundreds of people already glued to the window peering out to watch the casket and the two duffle bags of this soldier being removed from our plane.

Eerily as “Frosty the Snowman” played through the terminal, we watched a fallen soldier’s arrival home and the heart-wrenching images of a family greeting their son or daughter.

This picture was taken by my 11 year old daughter.  She posted it on her “Instagram” with a message: “Thank  you to all of the people and heroes who have served our country. Thank you to those who are serving our country. Thank you to those who have died for our country. Thank you for our freedom and rights.”

Our drive to my parents home was somber and filled with tough questions regarding death and war from our 11 and 14 year old daughters.  We cried all night and as we shared the story with my parents. They cried too.

My Mom said the local television stations typically broadcast these arrivals.  Not that night. I have spent countless hours trying to research who this fallen soldier may have been, and how he or she died. I have not been successful in my search.

The experience was unforgettable.

–Julie Taylor, Newport Coast, Calif. Follow her on twitter @NWPTJUL

Team Johnny Jet

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About the Author

Team Johnny Jet
Lanee Lee is a freelance travel writer/editor who lives for the quirky encounters, whether getting imprisoned by nuns in Puerto Rico, visiting Houston's beer can house, or seeing a holy man levitate in Rishikesh. As a tippling traveler, she believes immersion into local culture begins with the taste buds and a toast - from matcha to moonshine. Follow her latest voyage @wanderlushdiary.

9 Comments on "A Very Different Homecoming"

  1. How sobering! While it is a sad story, I love that so much respect was offered. I wonder if this is common?

    • Brett Harriman | January 16, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply

      Thanks to Johnny and Julie for sharing this moving story. It really brings the war home, in so many ways. God bless our brave soldiers and their families who make enormous sacrifices, to which many of us will never even fathom.

  2. Wow, that was powerful! It brings the reality of these regional conflicts into focus a little differently than the tv news spots. I guess because I can envision myself in her seat and experiencing the same thing and how I might feel. Great story about the sacrifices being made each and every day by young men and women in our military.

  3. Thanks Johnny and Julie for sharing the story of a fallen soldier’s final trip home. I have heard of similar flights but have not experienced one myself. It puts the Christmas season into perspective and the gifts we have of liberty and freedom that we often take for granted because of the sacrifices our armed services volunteers (our military is all volunteer) and their families have made for our country. God Bless America.

  4. Thanks to both Julie and Johnny Jet for both sharing and posting this heartfelt story. Thank you to the men and women who have served this country, and shame on our President for not welcoming home our soldiers with a parade. They deserve one.

  5. I have experienced the sobering journey of being on a flight where a Marine was accompanying a soldier home. It was from Dallas to LA on Veteran’s Day in 2010. AA asked us all to stand in the terminal lounge before boarding while the coffin was being loaded on to the plane, draped in the flag. We watched all available AA staff come out to form a guard of honor. When we arrived in LA, we were asked not to leave our seats until the soldier had finally departed the hold (we were all in tears at this) under the watchful eye of the Marine. On the tarmac there was the largest guard of honor from soldiers, police and the family. No-one moved a muscle, or complained about being delayed. It was the most moving Veteran’s Day I have experienced.

  6. I was a military officer charged with the duty to escort a fellow comrade home in 1970,a much different story unfolded! The lack of respect and compassion was stunning,to this very day I will not forgive or forget the ignorance of the public that cold February day.

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