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Nearly 60 veterans deboard plane when one not allowed to fly

An American Airlines plane. (Dreamstime/TNS)
May 25, 2022

Dozens of Oklahoma veterans deboarded a plane in a show of solidarity after one veteran’s oxygen tank prevented him from flying last week.

According to a News on 6 report on Monday, the group of nearly 60 veterans took a four-day honor trip to Washington, D.C. beginning May 18, but on the way home on May 22, the group got stuck in the Charlotte airport for 10 hours.

The long delay caused the oxygen tank of one of the veterans to run out of batteries, and it couldn’t be charged on the plane’s outlets. According to the group’s leaders, without extra batteries or a charging method, airline policy stated that the man couldn’t fly.

The flight was organized by Northeast Oklahoma Veterans Freedom Tour, a nonprofit dedicated to taking veterans on tours around the country to visit veterans memorials and monuments. Wayne Perego, a leader of the group, said the veterans’ decision to deboard was not made lightly, but they made a promise never to leave a soldier behind.

“We just decided that you know what, we are going to go off the plane also, if he’s going off, if they’re gonna take him off, the whole bunch was gonna go off,” he said.

The veterans ended up staying at the airport until 5:00 a.m. Eventually, American Airlines delivered extra batteries for the oxygen tank that were flown in from Norfolk, Virginia. The airline then chartered a flight just for the veterans.

After the airport ordeal, the group posted on Facebook, “On behalf of the Northeast Oklahoma Veterans Freedom Tour, we want to apologize to our Veterans for the issue at the Charlotte airport and we wish this would have never happened, we wanted to show our Respect and Honor to each of you during this trip.”

The group said it would not comment on the event involving American Airlines but would soon post an official statement.

News on 6 reported that the vets were greeted by a crowd of supporters when they returned home to Oklahoma.