A soldier who received last minute leave to head home over the Memorial Day weekend spent two days at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport trying to get a flight to Illinois as a standby passenger and began believing that he wasn’t going to make it. Then, a stranger stepped up and made things happen.
As reported by WGNTV, Keaton Tilson, a US Army mechanic from Granite City, Illinois that is currently stationed at Ft. Hood in Texas, saw his leave request approved at the last minute, leading him to head to the airport in hopes of flying home. However, since he was trying to fly standby and the Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to travel, he wasn’t having any luck getting onto a flight.
When Josh Rainey, a resident of Glendale, Missouri, heard about Tilson’s trouble, he offered the soldier his ticket. However, the ticket agent at the gate said that switching the passenger assigned to the ticket wasn’t allowed, leaving Tilson in his original predicament.
Rainey, feeling discouraged over the situation, called his wife looking for advice. Together, they decided to purchase Tilson a ticket to St. Louis, Missouri, giving him an opportunity to be with his family over the holiday weekend.
Speaking about the decision, Rainey stated he and his wife agreed “it was the right thing to do” in regards to buying the ticket.
After letting Tilson know about the ticket, Rainey stated, “[Tilson] walked away and came back, and asked if he could hug me, and I think we both had to fight back the tears after that.”
Tilson, who made it to his family’s lake house in Illinois, said, “I’m very appreciative because, if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” continuing, “Honestly, I feel like I would still be at the airport because it’s Memorial Day weekend.”
When asked about the cost of the ticket, Rainey said he received a reward worth far more than the $341 that it cost to purchase Tilson a seat. “It was pennies,” said Rainey, “Pennies on the dollar compared to what I got back from that hug.”
Tilson stated the experience showed him that military service is still valued while Rainey admitted that he was personally affected by the encounter since his father was a former member of the armed forces.