Two years ago, through the kindness of a stranger, my son arrived home in time to celebrate my birthday.
He was a soldier stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky. He was 19 and had just returned from Afghanistan where he was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade, which left a scar on his face.
My son had a reservation to fly home from Nashville on Dec. 22, but found he could get away a little early. He headed to the airport, hoping he could change his ticket and make it home for my birthday. Unfortunately, he found it would be too expensive to make the change, so he decided to wait in the airport until his flight early the next morning.
As he walked away from the ticket counter, a man who’d noticed his injury approached him. They struck up a conversation in which the stranger shared that he, too, was a combat-wounded veteran and had served in Vietnam.
The man asked where my son was going, and he said he was headed to Charlotte but was going to have to wait for his flight early the next morning. The stranger suggested my son check with Southwest Air, which had a flight into Greenville, S.C., at 7:10 p.m. – the last one that evening.
The kind man insisted on buying one of the last two seats on that flight, so my son, the soldier, could get home as soon as possible. He told my son he had been fortunate in his life since his Army days and only asked him to “pay it forward” one day.
Even now as I write this, my eyes fill with tears when I think about the kindness and compassion this man showed my son and our family.
My son was honorably discharged from the Army with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star awarded to him. He’s living at home now, going to school and will begin work full time in January. We will never forget this kind stranger and his gift to us.
Mary Ann Bennett, Huntersville