A Story About Coming Home

After all they have been through, for the 10 Canadian Armed Forces troops I shared an Air Canada flight with last night, they were finally headed home. Overhearing tidbits of their conversation, I picked up they were en route to Edmonton. I pondered what sort of milk run they were on, since Quebec City and Toronto certainly didn’t seem like the best route from Afghanistan to Edmonton. I learned later, some had already been thru Iceland and L.A.. Of course, when you’re going home, I suppose any route is okay.

As luck would have it, our flight was over 30 minutes late departing, and by the time we landed, these ten soldiers had ten minutes to make their connection.

They rose with humility and made their way to the front of the plane, thanking us for letting them deplane first. “No, thank you,” was the refrain from all the passengers as we clapped for these brave men and woman.

Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves in the same train car as our flight attendants. Curious, I asked if the soldiers would have been flagged in the Air Canada system, thus ensuring their connecting flight would be held.

I was shocked and saddened by her reply;

“The company wouldn’t even hold the plane for them. Can you believe it? After all they’ve been through, they wouldn’t let them wait for them.” Equally disgusted, she explained to me our pilots, her partner and herself decided to do everything in their power to make sure the soldiers made their last flight.

“At least if they’re off, they can run.”

The train doors opened and she disappeared before I could thank her.

It’s a shame Air Canada is more concerned about on-time departures than these young men and woman getting home to their families after serving their country. People like that flight attendant are the saving grace in this world. She could not do a lot, but she did what she could and as small as it was, I only hope it meant those ten soldiers got to sleep in their own beds last night.

Globeandmail.com Canadian troops board a plane to leave Afghanistan on Sunday, July 17. Photo: Rafiq Maqbool/AP
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