"WHAT'S YOUR SEAT NUMBER SOLDIER"?
It all began with a chance encounter at an airport, a glance, an offer, a quiet chat.
"What's your seat number, soldier?"
"It's 23-B, sir," the soldier told the businessman.
"No, son, that's my seat. Yours is in first class."
As more soldiers boarded, similar offers quickly came from the other first-class passengers. Eight soldiers heading home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R found themselves and their officers in the big seats up front instead of the center seats in coach.
U.S soldiers fresh from Iraq were surprised but grateful for the first-class seats on Flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago. That spontaneous act of good will transformed American Airlines Flight 866, from Atlanta to Chicago, on June 29.
"The soldiers were very, very happy, and the whole aircraft had a different feeling," said Lorrie Gammon, one of the Dallas-based flight attendants working the trip.
"There were 14 seats in first class, and there were 12 soldiers there. The other two first-class passengers wanted to give up their seats, too, but they couldn't find any more soldiers." Flight attendant Candi Spradlin of Conway, Arkansas, said she was impressed with how passengers treated the soldiers.
"If nothing else, those soldiers got a great homecoming," she said.
"The soldiers were so surprised they barely knew what to do," said Ms. Gammon, who lives in Frisco.
"They were so humble and thankful - they spent the whole flight saying thank you," she said."But we should have been saying thank you to them for what they're doing for us."
~ By Michael Young with the Dallas Morning News ~