The emotional sight of a fallen soldier being returned to her family brought almost an entire plane of people to tears.
The moment was captured by one of the passengers on Sept. 13 and posted on Facebook the following day.
When a Delta flight landed at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma with the body of a fallen sailor, passenger Mike Helms, who posted a picture online, said the captain made an announcement to explain the situation.
“The pilot announced that he would like to inform us that we were flying one of our fallen soldiers home to her family,” Mike Helms said in his Facebook post. “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.”
The soldier was Brooke Newton, of the U.S. Navy, who died in San Diego, Calif. on Aug. 30, according to her obituary in the Edmund Sun.
While they waited, Helms said he looked out the window at the heartbreaking scene below.
He described Newton’s mother and father crying at the casket and fellow soldiers off to the side saluting her.
“This moment hit me hard for some reason. I couldn’t hold back tears,” Helms said. “As I looked around the plane, I was hoping nobody would see my moment of weakness, but to my surprise, damn near everyone on the plane was crying.”
He went on to describe how he saw the woman next to him also crying while trying to comfort another woman near 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,” Helms said.
Helms’ post on Facebook has gone viral and even made its way to the family, who reached out and thanked him.
Brooke Newton was 25 years old when she died. She joined the Air National Guard after graduating from high school in 2010, according to her obituary in the Edmund Sun. She later joined the Navy while attending college at the University of Central Oklahoma.