As if they were waiting for Santa Claus, 9-year-old Moira LeGrand and 7-year-old Danika Blamires put their faces inches from the glass and watched fire trucks and other airport emergency vehicles with flashing lights escort a silver American Airlines jet to the terminal.
The girls were among about 20 people from Utah and Idaho, all of whom lost a loved one in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, waiting at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday for a free trip on what the airline calls the Snowball Express. Gold Star families from other cities also are flying to Dallas this week. The Snowball Express program gives the families a few days of vacation in Dallas.
Deborah May, of South Jordan, flew Thursday with her three children, ages 17, 12 and 10. Her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Donald C. May Jr., died in Iraq in 2003. This is the sixth time May has taken the Snowball Express and says it's become one of the largest gatherings of war widows and their children. She started crying recalling how the trip allows her to visit with women she communicates with online the rest of the year and gives her children a chance to meet kids like them.