FREEPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- A community in Long Island is coming together for the family of a man who died on a trip away from home.
Norman Easy is an Army veteran and should be surrounded by those who love him during the holidays. But in a tragic turn of events, the businessman died on a flight to China.
"I just want to say thank you," widow Nixtia Easy said at her Freeport home. "Thank you. I really appreciate it."
Norman Easy would have turned 58 years old Monday, but the decorated veteran who served two tours in Iraq boarded a China Eastern Airlines plane back on December 7 bound for Shanghai in his work as a healthcare executive and never came back.
"The latest that we have is that he passed away mid flight on the plane," son Marcus Easy said. "We're working on getting him back, and when we have him back here, that's when we'll have definite answers."
Planning for Christmas or celebrating anything wasn't on this family's radar these past couple of weeks, as they've been dealing with the Chinese Government and the State Department. And there was no progress, until recently.
The family hired a private security firm to assist them and signed a waiver pledging no inquiry to the government, but they are still waiting to get their beloved husband and father's body returned to them.
"What peeves me the most is he served his country, and we can't even get his body back," son Xavier Easy said. "I mean, we're going to. But he gave 30 years to this country."
In the meantime, his community -- and even a couple of favorite former Jets players -- came to the home to give whatever they could in return.
"It's something you'll never forget, your husband," former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker said. "And I know what that's like."
"I know it's a tragedy, but when a community comes together and supports each other, like what's happening here, I think the whole world needs to know," former Jets running back Freeman McNeil added.
And so even though they never expected this on Christmas, the Easy family's house is now bustling and full as they wait, with questions and broken hearts.
"He's not here with us, but we're here as a family," Nixtia Easy said. "So that's what is important. Family was number one for him."
Freeport Mayor Robery Kennedy and Lynbrook's deputy mayor helped arrange the Christmas visit, along with a delivery of gifts, especially for the youngest of Easy's four children, Jayden, who's only 12.
"I'm just confused as to why all this happened in the first place," he said.
The family says they are now getting a bit more cooperation and hoping to have Norman's body back by December 27. Their goal is to give him a proper funeral on January 4.
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Community comes together for Long Island family after man's sudden death on flight