February 4, 2010

Texas Airport Serves as Backdrop for Soldiers Surprise Reunion

McDonalds has a special kids menu called a Happy Meal. Harold and Beverly Gore of Memphis and Tonya Chowning of Baring were ordering off the adult menu at the fast food franchise located in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport when they received much more than a happy meal.

I had got my food and headed to our seats, said Chowning. After I put the tray down I looked up and noticed a military man in uniform who was sitting his bag down. We both looked up at the same time I was looking at my nephew.

Nathan Gore, a 1998 graduate of Knox County High School, had just flown into the airport returning from his third tour in Iraq. A member of the 82nd Airborne, Sgt. Gore was en route back home in Kansas City for a couple weeks before he is set to be re-deployed to Iraq sometime in February.

The chance meeting gets even more amazing.

Chowning and the Gores had driven to Omaha, NE, to meet with her sister and brother-in-law, Marcia and Dale Ostrom. The five family members flew from Omaha to Dallas/Fort Worth where they had a two-hour layover before heading onto Tampa, FL, for a vacation.

The local travelers were scheduled to depart at gate 37. Fortunately they chose to head down the airport to the McDonalds, which was between their gate and Gate 40, where Nathan was scheduled to be departing to Kansas City.

Chowning spotted Nathan first. Unfortunately he only had five minutes before he had to board his flight. Still he took advantage of the opportunity, to provide his grandparents a thrilling surprise.

Mom and Dad had set down to eat, not knowing he was there, Chowning said. Mom screamed, when she saw Nathan and jumped up to give him a hug.

The grandparents had not seen Nathan for roughly a year, when they saw him off for his latest deployment to Iraq.

Sgt. Gore had just completed his tour and had flown into the Texas airport from Baghdad. No one knew he was going to be back home, as he kept the two-week furlough a secret hoping to surprise his mother, Patty Parsons and his stepfather Denny when he returned home to Kansas City. Nathan is the son of Patty and the Late Randy Gore.

It just blew our minds, Chowning said. We never could have dreamed that we would run into Nathan like that.

The chance meeting was the highlight of the trip that had more than its fair share of memorable moments. The travelers bumped into famous wrestler Hulk Hogan in the Tampa Bay airport where Tonya was photographed with the star.

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