The Sack Lunches
I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned
seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to
read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.
Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled
all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a
conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated
nearest to me. ' Chicago - to Great Lakes Base. We'll be there for two
weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Iraq '
After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack
lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours
before we reached Chicago, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass
the time. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy
if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for
just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait
till we get to Chicago ' His friend agreed.
I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I
walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty
dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms
and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son
was a soldi er in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'
Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were
seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best -
beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She
turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a
dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'
After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading
for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to
be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.
Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down
the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not
looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my
side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out
his hand, an said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Qu ickly unfastening my
seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he
said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought
me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was
embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.
Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A
man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand,
wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.
When we landed in Chicago I gathered my belongings and started to
deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped
me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without
saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!
Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip
to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five
dollars. 'It will take you some time to re ach the base. It will be
about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'
Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their
fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer
for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our
country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check
Made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to
and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people
in This country who no longer understand it.'