The only reason U.S. Army mechanic Keaton Tilson, 19, made it home to Illinois on time to spend Memorial Day weekend with his family was because a good Samaritan with a kind heart was gracious enough to purchase a plane ticket for him.
According to Illinois news station KTVI, after Tilson received last-minute leave from Fort Hood in Texas to travel home for the holidays, he rushed to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and tried to book a standby flight.
Two days passed and he was still stuck at the airport, quickly running out of hope, when suddenly a good Samaritan from Missouri named Josh Rainey decided to offer Tilson his ticket.
When the ticket agent reportedly refused to allow the transfer, however, Rainey then called his wife, who suggested he just purchase a ticket for the stranded Army soldier.
“We agreed both that it was the right thing to do to go back and buy the ticket,” the Missouri main later recalled.
Though the ticket cost him $341, the reward was worth it, Rainey said: “(Tilson) walked away and came back and asked if he could hug me, and I think we both had to fight back the tears after that. It was pennies, pennies on the dollar compared to what I got back from that hug.”
Watch the video below to see the Army mechanic surprising his family:
“I’m very appreciative, because if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Tilson later said from his family’s lake house in Illinois. “Honestly I feel like I would still be at the airport because it’s Memorial Day weekend.”
According to Missouri news station KSDK, Rainey’s father himself once served in the U.S. Army, which partially explains why he chose to spend almost $500 to help a random stranger whom he’d never met.
The other, more pertinent explanation for his amazing generosity is the simple fact that Rainey is a genuinely good man with an earnest appreciation for the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make daily on behalf of the nation we all love. Kudos to him, and a heartfelt salute to Army mechanic Tilson.
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