Every day, mothers and fathers watch with tears in their eyes as their sons and daughters are deployed in service of our country, but very few personally get to bring their child back home.
When Captain Mario Lopes, a pilot for United Airlines in Washington D.C., found out that his son was returning home from Kuwait he was ecstatic. Then he discovered there was a military flight in need of a pilot.
Not knowing whether or not his son, First Lt. Mario Lopes, would be on the flight, Capt. Lopes jumped at the opportunity.
“I told my wife that this couldn’t be a coincidence. No one could confirm or deny if he would actually be a passenger on my aircraft, but I knew I had to take the chance and find out.”
On the day of the flight, Capt. Lopes discovered that his son would, in fact, be on his flight. Not wanting to be seen as he boarded, Capt. Mario did the only sensible thing a father could do:
“I gave my lead flight attendant Audrey a bag of Mario’s favorite cookies to distract him while I tried to sneak onboard.”
Then the moment of truth arrived.
“I have been flying since I was 17, I’ve worked for multiple companies prior to my 27-year career at United. I’ve had a lot of memories, but this flight is by far the most important to me.”
Upon boarding the plane, Capt. Lopes describes the moments leading up to seeing his son.
“I made my way behind him and asked, ‘First Lieutenant Lopes, what are you doing on my aircraft?’ When he turned around we embraced for as long as I could hold him. I cannot express the emotions I felt holding my son after not seeing him for so long.”
Good luck holding back the tears with this one:
Surely this is a father-son moment the two of these men will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Thank you for your service, First Lt. Lopes, and God bless all the men and women who serve our country!