A military family boarded a flight to bid Sgt. John W. Perry goodbye and instead of condolences and words of encouragement, they were met with boos and complaints.
Last week, Stewart Perry, his wife, Kathy Perry, and their daughter booked a flight on American Airlines from Sacramento, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a short transfer in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Perry family was going to view the body of Sgt. John Perry at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Perry was killed at the Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan on November 12. A suicide bomber took the lives of John Perry, two American contractors, and left 16 other U.S. service members seriously injured.
Mr. Perry, who was an athlete and a generous soul, was training for a 5K run at the base in Afghanistan to take part in an event benefiting disabled veterans. A brief bio of Perry read:
“Perry was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He was at the base supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.”
The mourning father said that the American Airlines flight landed over 45 minutes late and when the pilot discovered that they were about to miss their connecting flight, he decided to help. Via the loudspeaker, the captain asked all passengers to stay in their seats so the “special military family” could exit the aircraft first.
The announcement angered many travelers in the first class, who started booing at the Gold Star family. Stewart Perry said he does not know if the passengers understood that they were on their way to bury their child, who was serving this great country. Perry explained:
“Some people were saying ‘This is just baloney,’ and ‘I paid for first-class for this?’ “
He went on to say:
“It was just disgusting behavior from people in first class; it was terrible to see.You could see the disappointment from the flight crew.”
He also praised American Airlines for going out of their way to help them during this difficult time. He confessed:
“He made a decision that saved a lot of people. I was told that he was found protecting a female soldier. … He didn’t get to live a full life, but he lived.”
To his family, Sgt. John W. Perry, a proud father of two, was a hero.