Cancer claims vet at center of airline battle - FOX 13 News

Cancer claims vet at center of airline battle

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A cancer-stricken St. Pete veteran -- whose standoff with Spirit Airlines made national headlines earlier this year -- has finally succumbed to his illness.

It was this past April when the terminally ill Jerry Meekins bought a ticket to New Jersey to see his daughter while she was having surgery. But after doctors told Meekins he could not fly, Spirit refused to refund his $197 ticket, citing corporate policy.

"It's corporate greed," he told FOX 13 at the time. "Somebody has to fight."

Meekins started picketing the airline at Tampa International Airport, and after veterans groups joined the cause, Spirit Airlines' CEO -- after initially holding out -- finally refunded Meekins' ticket personally.

"Sometimes we make mistakes," Ben Baldanza told FOX News.

The airline also made a $5,000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Meekins' partner Carol Grey told FOX 13 on Wednesday that Meekins' health had deteriorated over the last month before he passed away last night.

But, she said, his battle with the airline likely lengthened Meekins' life by giving him something to fight for, and she said he spent his last days feeling as though he had made a difference.

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