A Stockton, California, man and his family were exiting a flight on their way to retrieve their son’s body after he was killed in Afghanistan last Saturday. In a shameful example of entitlement and self-absorption, passengers in first class booed the family as they passed through the pricey cabin.
Why? Because the pampered few might miss their next flight if the grieving family de-planed first — something the crew requested.
Sgt. John Perry, 30, died at Bagram Airfield when he stopped a suicide bomber. He sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. The suicide bomber was attempting to reach soldiers running in a 5K race to benefit disabled soldiers at Bagram Airfield, as The Daily Mail reported.
The heroic soldier had deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He’d been awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and many other decorations.
Perry’s father, Marine veteran Stewart Perry, told the Mail that his son, a combat instructor, and the others who died — Pfc. Tyler Lubelt and two Army contractors who also perished in the blast — are heroes. They saved as many as 100 lives by thwarting the attack.
Perry told The Record that he and his wife, Kathy, along with their daughter, were flying on American Airlines from Sacramento, California, to Philadelphia, with a flight transfer in Phoenix. From Philadelphia, they eventually flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive their son’s remains.
“This was really upsetting, and it made us cry more,” said Perry.
For unknown reasons, Perry said, the flight to Phoenix was 45 minutes late. The crew was worried the delay might cause the Perry family to miss their connecting flight.
So when the plane landed in Phoenix, the captain made an announcement for all passengers to remain seated so that a “special military family” pass, Perry said.
“Some people were saying, ‘This is just baloney,’ and, ‘I paid for first-class for this?'” Perry told The Record. “It was disgusting behavior from people in first class. It was terrible to see.”
The comments from the first-class elites, who were unwilling to bend for a military family, drove the Perrys to tears as they walked through the cabin. “To hear the reaction of the flight being delayed because of a Gold Star family, and the first-class cabin booing — that was really upsetting, and it made us cry some more,” Perry told news station KOVR.
This cruel behavior by the favored few illuminates the pressing need to put our veterans and their families at the front of our American consciousness. The frightening example of a lack of empathy and compassion shows how respect for our military members and their families must be modeled to our children — respect for those heroes who provide our very freedom to ride in the comfort of first-class on an airplane, should we wish to and be able to afford it.
Perry said American Airlines did all they could for the family. He said, “You could see the disappointment from the flight crew,” regarding the behavior of fellow passengers.
The grieving father also told the Mail his son’s death should remind Americans why the flag is sacred. “It’s not for protest — it’s for the death of the people saving us. That’s what it’s for.”
Vice President Joe Biden was one of many dignitaries assembled at Dover Air Force Base to honor the fallen hero as his body returned to the U.S. “We really appreciate what Vice President Biden did,” Perry told the Mail. “He stood on that flight line and saluted with his hand across his chest.”
Sgt. Perry’s eight-year-old sister, Anita Perry, is mourning her big brother. “He was loving and caring and he did care for me,” the girl told Fox40.
Sgt. Perry leaves a wife of eight years, Julianne, and two children, ages five and four. His wife told the Mail her husband will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full military honors. His family members had a memorial service in their hometown on Thursday.
A GoFundMe page is helping to support the family and has raised more than $20,500 as of Friday evening, surpassing the goal of $20,000. “I was told he was found protecting a female soldier,” the proud and grieving father told The Record. “He didn’t get to live a full life … but he lived.”