First Class Welcome For Marines Returning Home From Afghanistan

13 Marines returning home from Afghanistan received a special surprise at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. After five days of travel and plane switching, the 13 Marines were set for their final leg from Chicago to San Diego. But waiting for them in Chicago were cheers from a crowd of police, a fire truck water salute and first-class plane tickets.

As their plane taxied, they received a “water salute.” The fire department used their trucks to create an arch of water over the Marines’ plane. As they entered the terminal, they were greeted and cheered on by a crowd of USO volunteers, firefighters, police officers and airport workers.

The man responsible for putting together the welcome was John Colas, a 74 year-old former Marine and USO volunteer. He received a call from one Marine’s fiance, Stephanie Hare. Her future husband, Rajan, was finishing seven months in Afghanistan and was on his way from Baltimore to Chicago at that moment. Hare was hoping that the USO could do something special for the men when they arrived in Chicago.

“I just thought if they could get them some Chicago pizza, champagne or something, that would mean a lot.”

Colas was unsure of what he could manage in the remaining hour or so before the Marines landed. He got on the phone with the police department, fire department, American Airlines, and anyone else he could think of. Before he knew it, they had assembled a couple dozen folks to put together a hero’s welcome.

As recently reported by The Inquisitr, actor Gary Sinise spoke about the importance of supporting service men and women.

Because of all the commotion, the Marines weren’t sure of what to think at first. Rajan said, “For a second, we were like, ‘Are we in trouble?’ ” But they were extremely grateful for the warm welcome. Rajan’s fiance, Stephanie Hare, didn’t even know the special tribute occurred until the next morning, when she listened to a voicemail from Rajan relating the event.

The first class treatment wasn’t over yet for the marines; they still had one more flight. American Airlines has a policy that military service men and women get any available first class seats on their flights. There were only six available on the Marine’s flight to San Diego, but seven first class passengers gave up their seats so that the Marines could sit together. It truly was a first class welcoming gift for the Marines returning home from Afghanistan.