Woman Is Escorted Off Plane And Led To Husband’s Coffin Without Realizing She’s Being Filmed

Jan 03, 2021 by apost team

Shawn Thomas was a Green Beret who loved serving his country. He had been deployed eight times during his career in the military and passed away in a car accident on his last deployment. Shawn earned two Bronze Stars and four Good Conduct Medals throughout his long service. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sometimes the smallest actions have the biggest impact. This 30-second video of Shawn’s wife Tara mourning him, taken by a plane passenger, has been seen by more than 10 million viewers on social media since its posting to Facebook in 2017. Tara never thought her and Shawn’s story would touch so many.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video 

Videos of US Army soldiers coming home

The Internet is scattered with videos of US army soldiers coming home from deployment and reuniting with their loved ones. These are the videos that almost always go viral and never fail to make viewers cry because seeing their emotional reactions ignites our own. But those tears we shed while watching videos like that are usually happy ones. The one that we are about to talk about is not exactly a happy one.

Shawn Thomas, a soldier who passed away while serving in Africa

Shawn Thomas was welcomed home by an escort of Army soldiers. His wife and now widow, Tara Thomas, met his coffin at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. As soon as she touched the flag draped over the wood, she broke down in tears. It was a moment of unspeakable heartbreak. A passenger on the plane, Lisa West Williams, caught the event on tape. She posted it to Facebook, saying she was honored to have flown home with a patriot. “It just so happened that I was in a perfect position, the perfect seat,” Williams, who recorded the five-minute video, tells Inside Edition. In the video, Williams herself is heard crying as she watched the haunting moment. “Oh, I cried. I cried like a baby,” Williams says to Inside Edition. “I blubbered and I snotted just like I was, you know, a child. It was heartbreaking.”

Williams says that many other passengers cried alongside Tara as they watched her break down over her husband’s coffin. “They were just amazed and they were crying,” Williams continues. She said that among all the sniffles that she could hear, she heard the lady behind her say: “Oh, another angel is coming home.”


Later in the video, other members of Shawn and Tara’s family were seen comforting Tara and mourning with her.

The video was posted with permission from Tara

Some people might be reluctant to watch a private moment, but Tara has given Williams the blessing to share her experience. She wants every American to see the video, learn about Shawn’s life, and realize that brave soldiers die every day defending America’s freedom. “She wanted to show the world that this goes on,” Williams says of the widow. “And that we should be thankful for these men and women.” 

Williams says that the reason she wanted to film the video in the first place was just so she could show it to her children and give them the message that this is real life and things like this happen way too often.

Incredibly moving

Viewers of the video expressed their condolences to Tara and her family in the comments, and many of them talked about how considerate it was of Williams to get permission from Tara to post the video before she did so publicly. Some also said that they were crying along with Tara. 

“Her lover, her soul mate, her everything is in there,” read one of the top comments of the video. “I just can't imagine my husband in a coffin. It breaks my heart. Gosh I'm trying to fight back tears.”

“I am also crying,” another viewer wrote. “Can't imagine the love of my life gone just like that.” A handful of viewers said that this is proof that there is a price to pay for freedom.

“Freedom isn't free, it's paid with the lives of brave men and women,” one viewer said. 

Shawn’s family supported him every step of the way. Tara and Shawn lived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with their four children. Today, Cheyenne, Gavin, Taylor, and Natylyn along with their mother Tara are thankful for the military community back home.

According to Army Times, Shawn died from his injuries after meeting with a vehicle accident during his deployment in Niger. His death on February 2nd, 2017, was confirmed by a U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman. He was 35 years old when he died

Shawn had been part of a contingent of soldiers of both civil affairs and Special Forces that were in the African country to train local troops. Their duties also included supporting the local population of Niger in countering the spread of terrorist groups.

The Woodward, Oklahoma native enlisted in the army in July 2000 when he was just 18 years old. Before that, he worked as a networking switching systems operator. Eight years later, he joined North Carolina-based 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg after completing the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. Another eight years later, he became a warrant officer.

Altogether, Shawn was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan seven times. For his service, he has been awarded two Bronze Stars, four Good Conduct Medals, and various decorations for service internationally.

After his passing, Shawn was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal. According to his obituary, Shawn loved his job and was grounded by his faith, strong values, and family.

The number of Active-Duty Military deaths since 2006

According to Congressional Research Service, Shawn is one of a total of 17,645 active-duty personnel who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces between the years 2006 and 2020. The casualty category of ‘Accident’ made up the majority of the deaths at 31.8% (a total of 5605). 

Videos like these can make us appreciate the time spent with our loved ones more. You can watch the tearful moment Tara approaches Shawn's coffin below:

Do you know any army wives or other patriots who would appreciate this emotional story? Make sure you pass this story their way.

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