"The whole family was going to be together, and it would have been a chance to see all of them before going - and who knows when that chance will come again?" Callaghan explained.
He said he made sure he had the time off approved for his August trip before he bought the airline tickets through cheapoair.com
"I cleared it, nothing is going to come up, buy the tickets and go," he recalled.
But shortly before he and his girlfriend were scheduled to fly, his orders changed.
"The day before I was supposed to go, the orders came down that I couldn't go anywhere," he said.
Due to Hurricane Irene, his brigade was ordered to stay at Fort Bragg to help in cleanup efforts.
Callaghan said he contacted cheapoair.com and canceled the two flights that cost nearly $650. The online travel agent does have a compassion exception policy where they will provide cancellations, refunds, and exchanges when permitted by the airlines at no charge. Callaghan said he followed the steps through cheapoair.com, but got frustrated.
"It was kind of a runaround," he said. "Hey, we don't have the money, the airline has the money. You call the airline, and they say we don't have the money, the travel agent has the money. So it was back and forth, so nobody wanted to take responsibility for it."
After two months and no refund, Callaghan got in touch with me and I reached out to cheapoair. The lieutenant soon got good news.
"They refunded the money - both tickets," he said. "Emails and calls coming in from the travel agent, hey we just want to make sure you got your money, make sure everything is okay. [I] found it ironic the response was so quick."
A representative with cheapoair told me they had been working with Callaghan on this matter since he first notified them of his cancellation in August. Since then, she said they have been working diligently with the airline to rectify this and that they were able to get a full refund from the airlines for him.