U.S. businessman treats Okinawa Marine to a trip home for the holidays
Stars and Stripes December 20, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Heading home for the holidays is something many people would like to do, but when living overseas, the price tag on the trip can put family traditions out of reach.
One Okinawa-based Marine didn’t plan a trip home to Wyoming because of the expensive airfare, but she recently learned she would be home for Christmas after all, thanks to a stranger’s generosity.
Pfc. Lizeth Alvarado, the 3rd Dental Battalion commanding officer’s driver, will spend the holiday in Cheyenne thanks to Casper businessman Bob Englet.
She received the ticket after Englet donated his frequent flier miles to one lucky Marine. He got the idea after reading about a woman who did the same thing for a soldier, according to a report in the Casper Star-Tribune.
Englet, a former Marine, amassed thousands of frequent flier miles on business trips to Asia, the report said.
“I spent several years away from home when I was in the Marine Corps at Christmas time,” Englet said. “And so I thought, ‘Why should they have to sit there?’ If it is a matter of finances, I can certainly afford some of these frequent flier miles.”
Alvarado said she wasn’t sure she heard correctly when she received a phone call from her recruiter, Sgt. Matthew Adams.
“I found out last week when my recruiter called me at 2 in the morning,” said the 20-year-old, who admitted she couldn’t go back to sleep after receiving the call. “I called him back later when I got up just to make sure I had heard him right.”
With Alvarado’s sister getting ready to enlist in the Marine Corps, Alvarado’s recruiter knew that she wanted to come home. So, Alvarado said that when Englet approached the recruiter, she was already on his mind.
She had checked into ticket prices to head home, but prices that ranged from $1,500 to $3,000 were more than she could afford.
She said she was initially surprised, and then shocked when she found out she had a first-class ticket home. Alvarado’s mother, who was upset that her daughter wouldn’t be home, thought it was too good to be true.
“My mother said, ‘Are you sure it’s free? Nothing in this world is free so you better double-check,’” said Alvarado, who would have spent her first Christmas away from home without the ticket.
While it may seem like a dream, the trip home is about to come true — Alvarado leaves Okinawa on Wednesday and will be home until Jan. 14.
She said she plans to meet Englet and give him a gift and card to “thank him and tell him how much it actually means to me.”