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Good Samaritan buys plane ticket for soldier to visit his family for Memorial Day

GRANITE CITY, Ill. - A soldier was stuck in a Dallas airport this weekend but was able to make it home on leave to see his family in Illinois, thanks to a stranger.

Keaton Tilson is a U.S. Army mechanic from Granite City, Illinois.  He’s stationed at Ft. Hood in Texas and received last minute leave to come home.  He was stuck at a Dallas airport for two days; trying to fly standby and his chances of getting home were dwindling by the hour.

That’s when the stranger stepped in.  Glendale, Missouri resident, Josh Rainey, offered to give up his ticket.  When the ticket agent explained that wasn’t allowed, Rainey became discouraged and he called his wife for advice.  They decided to buy Tilson a plane ticket to St. Louis so he could see his family on Memorial Day weekend.

“We agreed both that it was the right thing to do to go back and buy the ticket,” said Josh Rainey.

“I’m very appreciative because if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” said Tilson, from a family lake house in Illinois.  “Honestly I feel like I would still be at the airport because it’s Memorial Day weekend.”

Rainey said the decision to buy that ticket has given him a reward worth more than the $341 he spent.

“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,” said Rainey.  “It was pennies, pennies on the dollar compared to what I got back from that hug.”

Tilson said the experience gave him a sense that military service is still appreciated.  Rainey said the experience touched him personally because his father was a former police officer and armed services member.