Stranger Buys Plane Ticket So Soldier Can Go Home to His Family Over Memorial Day Weekend

U.S. Army Mechanic, Keaton Tilson, was flying on standby, but chances of him flying out without a full fare ticket looked bleak.

An Illinois man recognized the true importance of Memorial Day when he purchased a plane ticket for a soldier so he could visit his family over the long weekend.

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U.S. Army Mechanic Keaton Tilson, 19, who was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, was able to surprise his family at their home in Granite City, Ill., thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

The random act of kindness came after he had been stuck at a Dallas airport trying to get a last-minute flight.

“He’s like, ‘Someone just bought my ticket,’” his mom, Jennifer Streicher-Tilson told “His voice was shaky. He was getting choked up. The feeling was unreal.”

She explained her son was flying standby since he didn’t get approval for his time off until Thursday evening, but quickly realized he would have no chance to fly home either Thursday or Friday as he watched flights, and even standby lists, fill up.

“It wasn’t looking good at all for any flights that day,” Streicher-Tilson said.

That’s when good Samaritan Josh Rainey, of Glendale, Mo., intervened.

He told he was on his way home from a work trip when he noticed Tilson in full uniform standing at the ticket counter. Rainey said both he and the ticket agent looked stressed out.

When Rainey realized what was going on, “the only thing I thought of was buying him a ticket. Both the agent and soldier looked at me in disbelief [when] I handed my credit card and booked the ticket for the same flight.”

He said it was the obvious thing to do, even if it ended up costing him more than $370.

“He looked like he was trying to get home to family,” Rainey explained. “If people get anything from this is to recognize people in uniform. Even though it’s their job to help and serve others, they sometimes need help too.”

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And, it's obvious good deeds like that don't go unnoticed. 

Rainy said he was even bumped up to first class after the booking agent noticed his generosity.

"I've never flown first class before," he joked.

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