Delta Flight 2255 passengers heading from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Thursday were surprised and honored to learn they were sharing a flight with a fallen hero, a U.S. Army soldier whose body was being transported back home to his family.
"When the pilot made the announcement, it just went silent," said travel journalist Johnny Jet, who happened to be aboard and told CBS his story. "You could almost hear a pin drop."
The pilot informed the passengers that they had all unwittingly been escorts of the highest honor.
"[The pilot] said, 'I just addressed the escort. It is a sworn oath to bring home to the family the fallen.' And then [the pilot] paused and he said, 'Today you all did that. You're all escorts. Escorts of the heart.' And then he thanked us for our time and then he walked off the plane," Mr. Jet said, in the CBS report.
Passengers watched as the flag-draped coffin was slid off the plane — and the soldier's loved ones walked to it, Mr. Jet said.
"When I saw [one] put her hand out, I just walked away," he said, in CBS. "It was an amazing moment."
The other passengers, meanwhile, watched silently from the terminal window, in respectful silence, he said.
The identity of the soldier has not been released to the media.
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