“I Couldn’t Hold Back Tears. Dang Near Everyone on the Plane Was Crying”: Pilot Hold Passengers on Plane to Pay Tribute to Fallen Soldier

fallen soldier

“Land of the free, because of the brave” is a mantra that has often been reduced to a cliché tagline or a cute bumper sticker reminding us of our ‘Merican pride.

We’ve all heard it a million times.

But it’s moments like the one Mike Helm witnessed in Oklahoma City that remind us what it means to truly take on those words in flesh and blood.

Window seats may be coveted real estate on a plane, as they offer us majestic views that no aisle- or middle-seater could dare dream… but nothing could prepare Mike for the view he’d soak in the night he took that flight.

As he watched a fallen soldier reunite with her grieving family, Mike and every soul on the plane felt the weight of the fight for freedom that they’d too often taken for granted.

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The Indiana father shares the emotional experience in a viral Facebook post that has ignited a wave of gratitude across the web for the sacrifice of fallen soldiers everywhere:

“My plane landed in Oklahoma City last night. When we stopped at the terminal, the pilot announced that he would like to inform us that we were flying one of our fallen soldiers, Brooke Newton, home to her family. He asked that we remain on the plane until our soldier was removed from the plane first. He also asked that we give a moment of silence.

As we sat there waiting, I decided to look out the window and this is what I saw. A mother and father hysterically crying on their fallen soldier’s casket. Standing off to the side were soldiers from her unit saluting their fallen soldier.


This moment hit me hard for some reason. I couldn’t hold back tears. As I looked around the plane, I was hoping nobody would see my moment of weakness but to my surprise, [dang] near everyone on the plane was crying.”

As he watched a Muslim console a crying woman in the seat beside her, Mike couldn’t help but take note of how the religious and cultural lines that typically divide us had been erased in that moment:

“The woman standing next to me was Muslim, I assume because of the hijab she wore. She was in tears and she tried consoling the woman next to her. The plane was filled with people of all races and religions. It was amazing to see everyone on that plane pay tribute to this woman and her family.”

“The media is what divides us,” Mike added. “I saw no division on that plane last night. I saw Americans paying respect to their countryman. A woman who put her life on the line for me, and you, and your freedoms.”

His powerful message has since resonated with millions, generating a newfound respect for our first-world freedoms.

May we all take Mike’s reminder to heart today as we pray for Brooke’s family and the families of her fallen brothers and sisters, who bravely fought so we may be free. 🇺🇸

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.