A Good Samaritan from Missouri bought a $341 plane ticket for a soldier stuck at a Texas airport trying to fly home to be with his family on Memorial Day.
Stationed in Fort Worth, Texas, 19-year-old U.S. Army mechanic Keaton Tilson wanted to see his loved ones in Granite City, Illinois, for the weekend, because he hadn't seen them in months. He was thrilled to receive last-minute permission to do so on May 25, reports KTVI.
But his hopes were quickly dashed when he found himself stuck at Dallas airport for two days, unable to catch a flight out for a much-needed break.
Luckily for the soldier, Josh Rainey -- whose father was a police officer and an armed services member -- overheard Tilson's conversation with a gate agent and was immediately moved by his plight, the Daily Mail reports.
"This is so much more about him," Rainey said, reports ABC News. "He has chosen to give up at least the next four years of his life. He got the week off. Instead of choosing to travel or see another country, he had to get home to his family."
At first, Rainey urged the airline to swap his boarding pass for Tilson's standby slot. But as protocol dictated those further ahead of line should get Rainer's seat, it again looked as if Tilson would ironically spend Memorial Day weekend at the airport, far from his family.
Rainer wasn't having it.
After a phone call home and a short conversation with his wife, Rainer booked a ticket for an immensely grateful and ecstatic Tilson.
"He 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," recalled Rainey. "It was pennies, pennies on the dollar compared to what I got back from that hug."
When Tilson's mother, Jennifer, heard the news, she was thrilled. Thanks to Rainey, she was able to see her son for the time since Christmas.
"I needed to personally and publicly thank him," she said. "You don't hear of that all the time of a complete stranger willing to spend all that money. We needed to find out who he was."
"We are super appreciative that Josh did this so Keaton could come home," she added. "I know it was short, but it was better than nothing."
No one was happier than the soldier himself.
"Honestly I feel like I would still be at the airport because it's Memorial Day weekend," Tilson said.
"I'm very appreciative because if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here right now."