News & Politics

Father of Dead Soldier Says Plane Passengers Booed Family

This undated photo provided by the Fort Hood, Texas Press Center shows U.S. Army Sgt. John W. Perry of Stockton, Calif. The Department of Defense said Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, that Perry died Saturday, Nov. 12 from injuries inflicted by an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan. Perry was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)

The father of a California soldier who died thwarting a suicide bomber in Afghanistan says that his family was booed while deplaning in Phoenix. They were on their way to Dover Air Force Base to collect the remains of their son, Sgt. John Perry.

The bomber’s target was a large group of military personnel preparing for a Veteran’s Day 5K run. Sgt Perry foiled an attack that could have killed a couple of hundred Americans.

The family was allowed to exit the plane first, which caused some first-class passengers to hiss and boo. Mr. Perry isn’t sure the passengers knew they were a Gold Star family, but says it’s more than a possibility they were aware of the reason for their flight.

Army Times:

The father of a soldier who was killed in a deadly attack in Afghanistan told Army Times that he and his family were booed by their fellow passengers as they flew to meet his son’s remains at Dover Air Force Base.

Stewart Perry and his wife and daughter on Monday flew from Sacramento to Philadelphia, with a layover in Phoenix. From Philadelphia, they took ground transportation to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Sgt. John Perry was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vest on Saturday on Bagram Airfield. Pfc. Tyler Iubelt and two American contractors were also killed in the attack. Sixteen American and one Polish service member were wounded.

The American Airlines flight from Sacramento was delayed, leaving about 45 minutes behind schedule, according to Stewart Perry, and time was running out for the family to make their connecting flight in Phoenix.

When the plane arrived in Arizona, the captain announced that everyone was to remain seated to allow the Perry family to leave first.

“When he made that announcement, there was some hissing and some booing behind us,” said Perry, who was sitting in first class.

Perry, a Marine veteran, doesn’t remember the captain telling everyone the reason they had to wait, but he said he does recall the captain mentioning “military personnel.”

“I believe that the passengers knew there was a Gold Star family on board,” he said. “The woman sitting directly behind us touched me on the shoulder and asked if I was the father of the soldier killed in Afghanistan.”

That leads Perry to believe some kind of announcement was made before he and his family sat down.

“It was very disappointing,” he said. “It’s just enough to put you over the edge.”

The incident was first reported by CBS Sacramento.

Mr. Perry thinks that disrespect shown the flag during the current wave of protests is misguided:
Perry said his son’s death also underscores why the American flag is sacred for service members, not just a symbol for protest.

It’s not for protest – it’s for the death of the people that are saving us. That’s what it’s for,” he said.

He also called out recent presidential campaign rhetoric, including President-elect Donald Trump’s remarks about the Khan family.

“One example would be Donald Trump speaking badly about a Gold Star family, who I now am, and it really bothers me, but it also bothers me that people don’t want to talk about the terrorism that killed my kid,” he said.

A soldier’s death defending his country has left a father defending his son.

“My kid was over there to help put a stop to this garbage, and he died,” he said.

The last eight years have bred a casual disrespect among civilians for the uniform and the flag. It’s not like it was in the 1970s when there was hatred of anything and anyone military, but it’s certainly different than it was during the first decade of this century.

President Trump should realize that to “Make America Great Again,” respect for the military must be re-established and a re-dedication must be made to the flag and the principles it stands for.