Before taking off from Lindbergh Airfield in San Diego, ten Marines hurriedly boarded the commercial aircraft, filling empty seats around me.

“Where are you heading?”

“Camp Lejeune, then to Afghanistan.”

About half an hour into the flight, an announcement came, saying lunch would be available for five dollars.

“You going to buy lunch?” one Marine asked the other.

“No, I’ll wait.”

Looking around, I saw that none were buying lunch, so I walked aft and handed the flight attendant a fifty-dollar bill.

“Please make sure each Marine gets fed.”

Her eyes went wet with tears as she thanked me.

After eating, I went again to the back of the plane to use the restroom, where a man stopped me.

“Here, take this.”

He handed me twenty dollars.

Returning to my seat, the plane’s Captain came down the aisle.

“I want to shake your hand. I was an Air Force pilot, and once, someone bought me lunch, an act of kindness I never forgot.”

I felt embarrassed as passengers applauded.

Later, a passing man reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He secreted another twenty-dollar bill in my palm.

After landing, waiting inside the plane’s door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without a word. Forty bucks!

Inside the terminal, I saw a Marine Sergeant accounting for his nine charges. I walked over and handed him the 80 dollars.

“It’s going be a while before you reach the east coast. Your guys will be hungry before that.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“No need to call me, ‘sir.’ I was enlisted like you.”

“Yeah? What branch?”

“Marine Corps.”


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