Archive for Afghanistan

Honored

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 30 December, 2009 by Thomas

I’m working a flight to FAY, and it’s still dark outside.  I’m tired, and I don’t really want to be here right now or going to this place.  This flight is too short to perform a beverage service so I just stand there for 20 minutes like an idiot and the flight feels much longer than it really is.  Thankfully we don’t have many passengers; we’re maybe only half full.

As passengers are boarding one lady asks if she and the people traveling with her can get off first.  The first thing to pop in my mind is something along the lines of Who does this broad think she is?  You can get off  when it’s your turn. But then a friend of hers explains that she and he and the other people with them are Air Force personnel who have just arrived back home from Afghanistan.  Well Hell’s bells, I can’t believe my luck.  It’s not at all uncommon to have soldiers or airmen on these flights since there is both an Army and Air Force base in Fayetteville, but I feel honored to take these people home.  I realize this is simply pure coincidence and I wasn’t chosen for this flight, but still . . . With a big goofy grin I tell them they can do whatever they want and welcome them home.

After boarding I talk to the one woman in the group and find out they’ve been in Afghanistan for about six months and won’t have to go back for a year.  Once we finally close the door and I’ve done the safety dance I sit in my jumpseat and start to think.  Of all the flights on all the days that I could be working I’m working this flight on this day with these passengers – these passengers who have put themselves in constant danger for half a year because I asked them to.  What luck!  I start to tear up a little bit, and I don’t know exactly why.  I guess it’s a combination of their sacrifice, willingness to face danger, gratefulness to be back home, and just the simple fact that I get to be the one to take them there.

We take off, and I get up.  I walk through the cabin and ask each one if I can get him (or her) anything, and then I repeat…anything. They all politely decline because apparently – and according the the one female – they’re all still loaded from the last flight when they got upgraded to first class and drank all the booze.  That’s OK; I’m glad they were taken care of, even if I wasn’t the one doing it.

When we land I make an announcement asking everyone to let them deplane first and explain who they are and where they’re coming from.  Everyone obliges, and as they step off the plane I shake each hand and thank them.  I mean it, and I try show them that I’m not just saying words but expressing true gratitude.  I think they get it.  I hope so anyway.

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