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Soldier makes it for father's funeral thanks to Schumer

A local soldier arrived home in time to attend his father's funeral, thanks to some quick work by Sen. Charles E. Schumer's office.

Army Sgt. Timothy Bergholtz of Perry was in Fort Hood, Texas, this week -- on leave from the Iraq war -- and was trying to get back to Western New York to see his father, Donald, who was in Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with cancer.

Bergholtz, 30, was having trouble getting clearance to leave the base and coming up with the airfare home -- about $1,200, family members said.

His father died Thursday afternoon.

Family members reached out to The Buffalo News Thursday night for help in getting Bergholtz home. The News, in turn, contacted Schumer's office, which got in touch with JetBlue Airways.

By 9:30 p.m. Thursday, the air carrier had a ticket for the 12-year Army veteran -- free of charge. Schumer's staff reached Bergholtz by 9:45 p.m., clearing the way for him to leave on a flight from Austin, Texas, early Friday.

Bergholtz arrived at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Friday afternoon. Amy Phillipi, his aunt, was grateful to the senator and his staff. "I was shocked they worked so fast for us," said Phillipi, of Machias. "They jumped right in, no questions asked. This is great."

"Given Sgt. Bergholtz's service to his country and the tragedy that ensued, everybody pulled together," Schumer said. "We thank Sgt. Bergholtz for his service to the country and give our condolences to him and his entire family."


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