A charter flight carrying family members of U.S. military service members serving in Japan landed Thursday on U.S. soil in Denver.
The flight contained 144 people who voluntarily left Japan in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami and ongoing concerns about the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Weary from a 14-hour journey, the families and 18 pets filed into a hangar converted into a welcome center. Representatives from all four branches of the military and Red Cross volunteers were on hand to give them food and water and help get them to their final destinations around the country.
About half of the passengers were children who immediately set about playing in a dragon-shaped “moonbounce” and by tossing footballs around with the service members on hand to help.
Source: Jim Spellman for CNN.