Smooth Sailing

By Brandie Greene
Hawaii, USA

Smooth Sailing

I am in the Navy, and in 1999 I was transferring from Chicago, Illinois, to Meridian, Mississippi. I was at the airport, trying to get my boarding pass and check my bags. Because I was moving, I had almost all of my possessions with me.

When I got to the counter I found out there was a limit to the number of bags you can check without paying a fee. I had exceeded this limit by four bags. In order to get both myself and all of my things home, I would have to spend over $100. I didn’t have that kind of money with me, because I had just paid some of my bills and sent a few larger items home by mail.

The airline employee told me she couldn’t do anything to help me. So I asked her where the nearest ATM was. She told me how to find the ATM, and a USO. A USO is a place military members and their families can go for some help, or someplace to relax while waiting for a flight. I went up to the USO area, only to find out that the people that could have helped me had already left for the night.

There was just one Petty Officer there, to whom I told my dilemma. He apologetically told me there was nothing he could do. I started to cry because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

A fellow military gentlemen was there using the USO amenities, and he overheard me tell my story to the Petty Officer. He came over and asked me for the story again. I told him, and we talked for a few minutes. He told me he was in the Army and a parachuter. I told him that my dad had been an Army parachuter a long time ago. He told me to go to the ATM and see what I could withdraw from my account.

So I went, but I could only pull out eighty dollars. When I got back I couldn’t find the parachuter. So I went back to the ticket counter to see if the lady there had seen him. She told me that my problem was taken care of. The man had paid the entire fee for me, and then disappeared. He left without me knowing his name, phone number, or address so I could return to him what he had paid. But he helped me to get home when I was in a bind.

Originally published as HeroicStories #319 on 4 July 2002
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