A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant — the reigning Mrs. Hawaii America — noticed that a 97 year old and his family who were headed to the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor events and were last to board seemed upset. So she brainstormed a way to cheer them up.
Veteran Ray Richmond was heading to Honolulu. So were Hawaiian musical group Makaha Sons. So the flight attendant asked if they would perform.
With an hour left in the flight, they went to the row where Richmond was sitting with his family. The lead flight attendant announced that Richmond was a Pearl Harbor veteran. Beltrame-Tevaga took a lei from around her neck and placed it on Richmond.
Mark Yim of the group played the guitar while Jerome Koko and Kimo Artis sang “Papalina Lahilahi.” Beltrame-Tevaga danced hula next to Richmond’s seat.
Richmond said it was the best part of his trip. The flight attendant described it as “a gift — something genuine, only Hawaii can offer.”
Other passengers went up to the World War II veteran “and started to kiss him and crying and thank him for all his service.”
Oh, and Mrs. Hawaii America hula dances in the aisle.
Having lived in DC for years, I’m no stranger to honor flights bringing veterans to their memorials in the nation’s capital. Those are special, but they’re also organized and planned.
Here was one flight attendant, inspired to do something for a veteran, and she found the perfect way to do it with the help of other willing passengers. There are plenty of ‘horrible passenger’ stories out there, but there are some really great passengers too.