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Camp Pendleton Marines Get Touching Thank You At Chicago Airport

Photo credit: The Rhodes Trust

Capt. Pravin Rajan

A baker's dozen of Camp Pendleton Marines were surprised with a trio of treats at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport this week on the final leg of their trip home to San Diego from Afghanistan.

As the Marines' plane landed at O'Hare, their aircraft received a fire truck water salute. When the troops entered the airport, a crowd of USO volunteers, police officers, and firefighters greeted the Marines with a standing ovation.

And possibly the coolest part of all - American Airlines was able to upgrade six of the Marines to first-class. Then, seven other first-class passengers gave up their seats so the remaining Marines could fly in style with their comrades.

Marine Corps Capt. Pravin Rajan told The Associated Press:

“It was incredibly touching. Afghanistan is a very complex and ambiguous war … and a difficult thing to keep track of so it is amazing when we are 10 years (into) a war and there is still that kind of community, that level of support, the level of willingness to go out of one’s way.”

Rajan has his fiance, Stephanie Hare, to thank for organizing the whole shebang. Hare called the USO at O'Hare, and her call was answered by Marine veteran John Colas, 74, a volunteer with a lot of imagination - and energy.

Colas got on the horn to the police department, the fire department, and American Airlines to arrange the Marines' welcome:

“There must have been 15 Chicago firemen and an equal number of Chicago police and they formed a corridor for the Marines when they got off the airplane."

Nice work, Chicago!

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