Seaman recruit Thomas Tudisco Jr., fresh out of boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, boarded the first flight of his life Saturday from O’Hare en route to his new assignment at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
Naturally, the airline lost his seabag.
This left the 18-year-old Tudisco without his uniforms, his personal effects or even a clean change of underwear, which is probably not the best way in the military for a new recruit to make a good first impression.
I’m not entirely sure how Tudisco feels about this. He’s pretty busy being trained by the Navy as an electrical construction Seabee to be conducting interviews.
But I can tell you for a fact that his mother, Lisa Tudisco, of Oriole Park, is one ticked-off military mom after four days of going round and round with American Airlines to give her son some help.
His mother promises me Thomas is none too pleased either, sticking out each day like a sore thumb in the Navy dress whites he wore on the flight with no change of clothes.
Mrs. Tudisco does not strike me as an unreasonable person, certainly no more unreasonable than any other mother who just hours before this had watched her oldest son graduate from boot camp and move out-of-state for the first time.
She realizes luggage gets lost and that the airlines, thrown into chaos by last week’s fire at the air traffic control facility in Aurora, are facing bigger challenges than normal right now.
But there’s something about seeing her son treated like just another inconvenienced vacationer back from Cancun that has aroused her sense of right and wrong.
“I just feel it wasn’t fair to him. They should have wanted to help him right away,” she told me Wednesday. “I feel like they just don’t care.”
A spokeswoman for American Airlines assured me the company does care and will do its best to do right by the Tudiscos, noting that fewer than 1 percent of bags are lost.
First, though, American wants the recruit to complete the proper forms, which his mother says is part of the problem. She says he’s somewhat occupied in the service of his country right now (albeit not exactly on the frontlines) to be filling out a lot of paperwork that requires tracking down receipts and such.
A seabag, Tudisco emphasizes, is not just another piece of luggage. For a young serviceman like her son, it’s pretty much everything he owns in the world, including letters from family and friends.
Tudisco swears she is normally not the type to make waves.
“For the first time in my life, I felt like speaking up,” she said.