Keaton Tilson serves our country as a mechanic in the U.S. Army. He is stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas and rarely gets to leave and see his family back home in Granite City, Illinois. Tilson hadn’t been home for many months and finally got an unexpected leave right before Memorial Day. But when he tried to get a standby flight home, he found they were all booked up.
Military personnel gets to fly standby for free, so Keaton was counting on snagging a spot on a flight like usual. But Memorial Day proved busy as ever at the airport and the hours stretched on and on.
He waited at the airport for a flight for two days straight but he still couldn’t get onto a plane. His leave wasn’t very long, so Keaton grew concerned that he might not make it home at all for the holiday weekend.
Flights proved to be too expensive for him to afford, so he continued to wait until something totally unexpected happened. Missouri native Josh Rainey witnessed one of Keaton’s attempts to get on a flight and saw the disappointment in his eyes when he was once again told the plane was full.
Rainey offered to give the young military man his own ticket, knowing that he could purchase another one and get home not much later. But the airport refused his request due to security concerns.
The former military man and police officer then called his wife and asked for her advice. Moments later, he reappeared and purchased a ticket for Keaton to go home to his family. In the end, he didn’t hesitate at all to help this young man in need.
The two men connected on a level that is rarely seen between strangers and Keaton gave him a hug for his selfless act. They both even admitted to tearing up which makes for a very sweet ending to an awesome tale of generosity.
“We just shook hands at first, then he walked away, then he came back and asked if he could hug me,” Rainey said. “I think we both had to fight back the tears after that. It was pennies on the dollar compared to what I got back after getting that hug.”
Tilson recognized how kind Rainey was being and couldn’t have been more grateful. Being a military man, he knows how to respect and thank people who help him out – a rare thing in some youth of today.
“There was really nothing I could do at that point to kind of, repay the favor,” Keaton said. “I don’t think he was really looking for anything like that. I just felt really appreciative so I gave him a hug… I even shedded a tear a little bit!”
This sad story has a happy ending, but far too many of our soldiers don’t get home to see their families due to sad circumstances like this. We as a country should always go out of our way to treat service members with the respect and admiration that they deserve. If you have the means to help like Rainey, it can mean a whole lot to a young guy like Keaton that just wants to go home to see his family.