WASHINGTON (CBS Atlanta) – A marine who lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan was “humiliated” while boarding a Delta Airlines flight, as he was clumsily pushed to the back of the plane in a wheelchair, knocking into row after row of seated passengers.
Tears streamed down the face of Marine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown last Sunday when the war hero with prosthetic legs bumped into multiple passengers despite the best rebuffed efforts from several veterans on board to move Brown to first class.
The Washington Post reports that Delta flight attendants cited that because the doors had closed for takeoff, they were unable to move the wheelchair-bound Brown to first class.
Seeing the whole event unfold, retired Army Col. Nickey Knighton wrote a “customer care” report to the airline detailing the treatment of Brown, who was sitting in her same row toward the back of the plane.
“[He] was obviously humiliated by being paraded through the aircraft and was visibly upset,” Knighton wrote in her complaint to Delta, which was obtained by “She The People.” “I touched Brown on his shoulders and asked if he was okay. Tears ran down his face, but he did not cry out loud.”
In Dec. of 2011, Brown, who was on foot patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, lost both his legs after stepping on an explosive device.
Last weekend, Brown, 29, was running a high fever upon returning from a hunting trip in Alabama for other injured service members from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Brown has spent almost a year since his injuries.
“I just can’t imagine what it was like for him, being that sick,” Brown’s mother told the Post. “He had a 104-degree fever and he was shaking. He was quite obviously sick.”
Retired Army Lt. Col. Keith Gafford, who was also on the flight, told the Post that two first-class passengers offered to switch seats with Brown before takeoff. This request, Gafford said, was rejected by the flight attendant. Gafford described the crew as being as “hard as woodpecker lips.”
“I have been flying with Delta for a gazillion years and this crew treated Chris worse than you’d treat any thing, not even any body,” Gafford told the Post. “I did 27 years in the military. I have seen a lot of things and have seen a lot of guys die, but I have never seen a Marine cry. What the kid said was, ‘I have given everything that I can give and this is the way I am being treated? This is how I will be treated for the rest of my life?’”
Delta representatives have said that they are looking into the incident.
“The story in no way reflects either Delta’s standard operating procedure or the very high regard we hold for our nation’s service members,” Michael R. Thomas of Delta’s corporate communications office told the Post. “We are sorry for the difficulties that transpired and are investigating this event to determine the appropriate next steps.”
In responding to whether he would ever fly Delta again, Brown kept it short and sweet to the Post: “Hell, no.”