Columnist Louise Knott Ahern has a soft spot for two things: dogs and veterans. A flight attendant with US Airways messed with both.
US Airways was forced to apologize to an Iraq veteran from Williamston this week for the way some of its flight attendants treated his service dog on a recent trip from Florida to Detroit.
And, of all the veterans to mess with, they chose Eric Calley. He’s a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq and now spends civilian life advocating on behalf of other returning veterans.
He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has struggled through a world of hurt to get where he is today.
The two things that he says rescued him?
His son and his Sun, a golden-haired little boy and a rescued Doberman specially trained to help veterans with PTSD.
Sun is by his side almost every minute, monitoring Calley’s heart rate, his breathing, the tension in his muscles.
At any change in his demeanor, Sun will wedge her snout under his arm to calm him or jump into his lap to put warm pressure on his chest.
If he has a nightmare, she wakes him up with a nudge of her cold nose.
“She was rescued,” he says, “to rescue me.”
Here’s what happened.
It was Dec. 7, and a flight attendant from first class walked back to where he was sitting in coach and repeatedly yelled at him because Sun had put her front paws on an empty seat next to him during some turbulence.
There are witnesses, including another local veteran. Chuck Aaron of Charlotte, who also served in Iraq, was sitting behind Calley.