Family Members of Slain Soldier Booed by Passengers in First Class Cabin

John Perry was a sergeant who was one of four people killed in an explosion at Bagram Airfield — which is an airbase operated by the United States — in Afghanistan at approximately 5:30 in the morning local time on Saturday, November 12, 2016 as the result of an attack by an apparent suicide bomber. That incident injured seventeen other soldiers who were participating in a mission.

Family Members of Slain Soldier Booed by Passengers in First Class Cabin

Stewart Perry — who served the United States as a Marine and is the father of John Perry — was traveling with his wife and daughter from Sacramento to Philadelphia via Phoenix on Monday, November 14, 2016 as passengers of flights operated by American Airlines when the airplane arrived at the airport in Phoenix 45 minutes late. Members of the flight crew were concerned that the delay might cause the Perry family to miss their connecting flight to Philadelphia, from which the family would travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive the remains of John Perry. All passengers were asked via announcement over the public address system aboard the airplane by the captain to please remain seated in order to allow a “special military family” to exit the aircraft first.

“Several passengers in first class began to boo and complain, Perry said”, according to this article written by Nicholas Filipas of the Stockton Record. “Some people were saying ‘This is just baloney,’ and ‘I paid for first-class for this?’”

Disappointed, Disrespected and Disgusting

Despite the employees of American Airlines reportedly doing everything they could to accommodate the Gold Star family, Perry was “disappointed and hurt” at the passengers who booed him and his family; and he ultimately felt “disrespected” as a result of the ordeal.

Perry and his family — who live in Stockton — were able to catch their connecting flight; and the pilot ensured that the aircraft remained at the gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for 40 minutes so that all of the members of the family were safely and securely aboard the airplane.

“It was really disgusting on the passengers’ part,” Perry said, according to the aforementioned article. “It was just disgusting behavior from people in first class; it was terrible to see. You could see the disappointment from the flight crew.”


After being honored at a memorial service in Lodi because heroically “made a decision that saved a lot of people,” John Perry — who was reportedly found protecting a female soldier at the time of his death — will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Perry was not certain as to whether the passengers from Sacramento knew there was a Gold Star family aboard the airplane; nor did he know if there was a similar reaction from passengers seated in the economy class cabin — but does that really matter?

Whether or not members of the military should receive special treatment as airline passengers is one issue which is up for debate; but the men and women who serve in the United States armed forces — and especially the families of those who are killed in the line of duty — do not deserve to be treated with outright and blatant disrespect, in my opinion.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

12 thoughts on “Family Members of Slain Soldier Booed by Passengers in First Class Cabin”

  1. Carl P says:

    It just shows not all people that fly first class are first class, but that should come as no surprise to anybody.

    I think most people would have an idea what “special military family” meant. Did they have to spell out that they had lost a son?

    1. phoenix says:

      Not to mention a son that died so those first-class passengers have the right to be first-class passengers.

      “Land of the free, home of the brave”?

      1. Hosea says:

        The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with the right to fly domestic first class

        1. Stephen Mackley says:

          “… nothing to do with &c &c &c, … domestic blah, blah, blah…” etc.
          Do you believe the zealots who would rule you, against whom the US forces are fighting and in this case dying, would have no say in EVERY aspect of your life, including even your right to pick your infidel Nose, much less your seat in an airplane, if they won?

        2. Constance Mead says:

          Well it’s four years later and It would seem you have proven to wrong!
          No matter what the issue is, even it is about bubble gum, you have to jab Trump. Ask yourself if you really KNOW why you hate him?
          My family are all career military, spread over the five branches of the military. President Trump has been very good to the military, unlike the president before him. If you paid attention to the news it would be clear what he accomplished for military members and their families.
          While we were stationed in stationed in Dover Delaware for several years, which houses the military mortuary. My cousin being the executive officer there at the time. My husband served as an escort to many of these families who had lost their loved ones. Not a fun job. I can assure you President Trump has spent time at Dover Delaware Air Force Base.
          I don’t know where you got the impression Trump does not like those families. I guess you never saw all the Goldstar families, of different generations, that he honored on TV, along with warriors of different wars. Brought tears to my eyes.
          I do not know how people draw conclusions, about anything, without personally doing some research. You might try that the next time before you name call.
          The military sacrifices much of their own lives to enable you to live well. If you cannot remain seated while a grieving family rushes to connect on time with the plane taking them to Dover, DE to retrieve the lost child you are sad. I do not care that the “wittle baby passengers” had to five minutes or less to disembark from the plane.

  2. Andy says:

    Our President-elect has zero respect for Gold star families. Zero. That’s the example he sets, and he gets elected, not… despite it, but it seems because of it.

    And that is the country we now have. No compassion or respect for a tortured grieving family….normalized by Trump. I’m once again sickened.

    Bring it on Trump Nazis…. Im ready.

    1. phoenix says:

      For the wars that he will start, be ready for even more Gold Star families, families whose sons and daughters died for the sake of inflating his ego.

  3. Stan McKennon says:

    Despite the click bait headline, there is nothing that supports the insinuation that passengers were booed BECAUSE they were a Gold Star family (which would, of course, be disgusting). In other words, if the plane was late and many people had super tight connections, I can identify with being annoyed if the chances of me making the flight were reduced by having to wait on the plane. I know Brian needs the clicks, but this is a bit pathetic.

  4. Jennifer says:

    So sad. We seem to be losing all civility for each other these days.

  5. Brian says:

    Kudos to the Captain, the Cabin Crew, and the other staff at American Airlines for doing what they could for this family to ensure that they made their flights. The family, including their fallen son, will be in my prayers. So will the people who lacked the courtesy and respect for this family in their time of need. They clearly need my prayers too.

  6. Wt says:

    Disgusting behavior on the part of the 1st class passengers for lack of civility.

    On the positive side, after we elected trump who ran on a platform that we need to defeat PC ( political correctness) I am happy that the FC passengers voted down PC, this respect for Gold star families.

    It’s a new world.

  7. george carlin says:

    hypocritical pigs. you care about this family but what about the other professions like fire fighters, policemen, medical-related? doctors/nurses down to the dietary crew?

    you care for this family but have nothing to say or do not protest that your president is friends with eipstein that manipulated minors to the elite? sure.

    disgusting hypocrites the lot of you.

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