by: Jenna Deery Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - U.S. Airways is trying to track down a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier after passengers said one of an airline flight attendant refused to hang up his jacket on a Charlotte-bound flight.
Late Friday afternoon, the airline issued an apology for what happened on board U.S. Airways Flight 1930 from Portland, Oregon, to Charlotte on Thursday.
The statement reads: "We apologize for the situation and are reviewing the incident internally. We have a long and proud history of serving our military members and hold the men and women who serve our country in the highest regard."
Thousands of people have responded blasting the airline online after the story went viral.
First Sgt. Albert Marle asked a flight attendant if she could hang up his jacket to keep it from getting wrinkled. Passengers on board the flight said she refused, citing a policy that said the closet was only for first-class passengers and Marle wasn't one of them.
An airline spokesperson said Marle was the fourth person to make that request and the closet didn't have space but passengers said that is not how the flight attendant responded.
"Her response wasn't that there's not space in the coat closet or ‘I've hung too many jackets up.’ It was just simply, ‘Our airline policy says I'm not going to do it, so I'm not going to do it,’" said Brian Kirby, a first-class passenger on Flight 1930. "I was really appalled at not only the way she looked at him but the way she spoke to him in an angry type of attitude."
Passengers said the soldier did not raise a fuss and quietly returned to his seat. Some of them offered him their seat in first class but the soldier wouldn't take their seats.
"He was more than willing to take his seat. He was not going to make an issue of it. It was us in first class that made an issue out of it," said Kirby.
Marle's parents told Eyewitness News their son's uniform is very important to him. He's been wearing it on job interviews across the country pursuing his dream to be a doctor.
A U.S. Airways spokesperson said they are trying to reach Marle to thank him for his service.
"It may not have seemed like a big deal and he certainly wouldn't have made a big deal about it but it's important someone stands up and says this is not correct it needs to be fixed," said Kirby.
Marle's family didn't want to comment and said he doesn't want to attract any more attention to himself.
U.S. Airways stressed it values service members and said they consider this a serious issue.
Channel 9 reached out to officials at Fort Bragg about what the medals on his uniform would mean.
Officials responded, "What I can tell you is he is, according to the insignias on his uniform, he is Ranger qualified (black and gold metal banner on his left pocket flap), he is Pathfinder qualified (metal insignia with the gold wing), he is Air Assault qualified (silver metal insignia with the wings and front view of a helicopter), he is Special Forces trained and most likely in a SF unit (aqua and gold metal banner over the Ranger banner/he is currently serving in an airborne unit (silver jump wings above his ribbons)/SF unit crest designating his unit affiliation (metal insignia to the right of his right lapel)."
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