The father of a California solder killed last weekend in Afghanistan says he was offended and shocked when passengers on a plane that had just landed in Phoenix booed him over a flight delay.
Stewart Perry told the Army Times that he, his wife, Kathy and daughter were on board an American Airlines flight from Sacramento to Philadelphia on Monday, with a quick transfer in Phoenix. Once in Philadelphia, the family traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., by car to receive his son's remains.
However, the flight to Phoenix was 45 minutes late, causing the captain to make an announcement for passengers to remain seated to let a "special military family" exit first, so they wouldn't miss their connecting flight.
According to Perry, several passengers in first class began to boo and complain.
"When he made that announcement, there was some hissing and some booing behind us," Perry said, later telling the Stockton Record he overhead passengers making comments like "This is just baloney" and "I paid for first-class for this?"
"It was just disgusting behavior from people in first class; it was terrible to see," Perry said. "You could see the disappointment from the flight crew."
American Airlines didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Perry's son, Sgt. John Perry, was one of two soldiers killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vest at Bagram Airfield on Nov. 12. According to the Department of Defense, the blast also took the life of Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt of Tamaroa, Illinois, as well as the lives of two U.S. contractors working on the base. Sixteen other U.S. service members and one Polish soldier participating in a NATO mission were wounded.
Sgt. Perry will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
"He made a decision that saved a lot of people," Perry's father said. "I was told that he was found protecting a female soldier. … He didn't get to live a full life, but he lived."