Footage showing the heartbreaking moment that a grieving army widow mourned on the airport tarmac beside a flag-draped coffin containing her fallen Green Beret husband’s body has gone viral after it was uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday, February 14.
The video, taken through rain-splattered window by a plane passenger, Lisa Williams, shows Special Forces Warrant Officer Shawn Thomas’ widow, Tara, grieving by her husband’s coffin at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport after the coffin was lowered from the plane on Tuesday, February 14.
The sight of the widow’s emotional pain as she placed a hand on the flag-draped coffin containing her husband’s remains left plane passengers who witnessed the incident in tears.
Warrant Officer 1 Shawn Thomas, 35, native of Woodward Oklahoma, died from injuries he suffered in a car crash on February 2, while serving in Niger, a central African country, U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt confirmed on Thursday, according to Army Times. The warrant officer was deployed to Niger from his base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to help train local troops fighting against Boko Haram terrorists.
The flag-draped coffin containing the remains of the warrant officer was flown back to the country earlier in the week and buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to Fox News.
Footage showing the moment that his wife, Tara Thomas, came up to and touched her husband’s coffin on the tarmac was taken by Lisa Williams, a passenger who was on board the plane that flew the fallen hero to Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina on Tuesday.
Lisa said the pilot of the plane asked passengers to remain silently in their seats so that someone on the aircraft could get off first. Passengers watched as Tara stepped off the plane and walked up to her husband’s coffin on the tarmac.
According to Lisa, there was silence on the plane as Tara stepped out and some passengers were so overwhelmed with emotion that they cried.
The pilot thanked the passengers for remaining respectfully in their seats and maintaining silence while the widow disembarked and her husband’s coffin was lowered from the airplane.
The footage shows soldiers lowering Thomas’ flag-draped coffin from the airplane and Tara dressed in black walking up to the coffin, placing her hands on it and lowering her head in grief. Other members of the family joined the grieving widow by the coffin.
Later, the troops loaded the coffin into a black hearse and paid their respects by saluting.
“It was an honor to fly home with this patriot,” Lisa West Williams, who shared the video on Facebook, wrote, according to the Daily Mail. “God bless his wife and family. There was not a dry eye around me.”
According to Army Times, Thomas joined the army in 2000. His army unit, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, was based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was deployed to Niger. He was a decorated soldier with two Bronze Stars and four Good Conduct Medals, among several other decorations.
He was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal posthumously.
“Under his big beard, tattoos and giant muscles there was a small town Oklahoma boy that was grounded by his faith, strong values, and family,” an obituary for the fallen hero on Woodward News read.
Lisa Williams, who captured the video, confirmed that she sought the permission of the grieving widow to share the video online. Tara gave Lisa permission to share the video because she wanted others to appreciate the sacrifices of military families.
“She wanted people to realize that this goes on every day,” Williams told WNCT. “There are many men and women that come home in a casket and they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
The video has been viewed millions of times since it was uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday. Thousands expressed gratitude for the fallen soldier’s service and condolences to the fallen hero’s family.
Thomas was survived by four children, his parents, a brother and a half-sister.
[Featured Image by Darren McCollester/Getty Images]