Subscribe Now

travelers today

Home » News

Marines Given Warm Welcome at O'Hare Airport As First Class Passengers Give Up Their Seats For Them

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Nov 06, 2013 08:58 AM EST

Text Size: A A A

A group of Marines on their way home from Afghanistan got a big welcome at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.(Photo : Reuters)

A group of Marines on their way home from Afghanistan got a big welcome at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

A group of 13 Marines were treated as heroes on their trek home. After spending five days transferring flights to get to the other side of the globe, they were greeted by a small crowd of police, a fire truck water salute and first-class plane tickets, the Daily Mail reports.

Share This Story

A retired Marine and others made sure the Marines were given an appropriate greeting and sendoff as they made the final leg of their trip to San Diego.
The Marine were given a water salute as their plane landed and taxied under an arch of water from fire department hoses. The Marines then walked into the terminal and were given  a warm greeting from a crowd of cheering USO volunteers, firefighters, police officers and airport workers.

When the Marines boarded their last flight to San Diego, they found that American Airlines had six empty seats in first class for the Marines. Even more became available when seven other passengers volunteered to give up their first class seats for the remaining soldiers. The Marines got to enjoy leather seats, more legroom and state-of-the-art headphones on the way home.

"It was incredibly touching," Captain Pravin Rajan said according to the Daily Mail. "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 greeting was organized with a phone call by Stephanie Hare, an Illinois native who works in England. She called the USO and O'Hare and said that her fiance, Rajan, who had been serving in Afghanistan, was on his way to the airport from Baltimore with the group.

"I just thought if they could get them some Chicago pizza, champagne or something, that would mean a lot," Hare said according to the Daily Mail.

However John Colas, a 4-year-old former Marine USO volunteer picked up the phone. He told Hare that he'd try to organize something in the hour before the flight landed, but he wasn't sure if he could pull it off on such short notice.
He quickly called the police and fire departments, the airlines and others.

"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," Colas said.

Rajan said the Marines didn't know what was going on at first when they looked out the window and saw the fire truck. "For a second, we were like, 'Are we in trouble?'" he said.
Once they realized what was going on, they were grateful for the welcome.

"They were just so thankful - very, very appreciative," Linda Kozma, an American Airlines employee who helps military personnel told the Daily Mail.

Hare didn't know what Colas had pulled off until the next day when she heard a voicemail from Rajan explaining what had happened. "I just thought it was really beautiful," she said.


© 2015 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join Our Conversation

Travel Tips


Five Tips for Parents Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids can be a real burden. Lighten up your load. Check this article out.


Travel Tips from Experienced Travellers

Learn the best travel tips from people who have spent most of their lives exploring the beauty of the world.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest travel news, reviews, and more..

Want more Travel?

Most Popular


Chile Earthquake: Seeing the Brighter Side

A photographer affiliated with REUTERS has captured a rare moment: a guy trying to see the brighter side of the Chile earthquake.


What to Do in Australia

Australia is one of the best places to visit any time of the year. It has so much to offer its guests and visitors. Whether you are traveling to Australia or jsut want to explore more of your own place, here is a checklist for you.

REUTERS/Carlos Vera

Chile Earthquake Kills Five People, Triggers Tsunami

The people of Chile are still terrified as aftershocks continued to shake buildings. Power outage is also experienced in some areas affected by the earthquake.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2015 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter