A heartbreaking video shows the moment a widow met her Army veteran husband's coffin on the airport tarmac, leaving a plane full of passengers in tears.

Green Beret Shawn Thomas, 35, an Oklahoma native and father of four who was based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, died earlier this month after a vehicle accident while serving in Niger, Africa.

His flag-draped coffin was brought back to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the fallen warrant officer's remains will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He had two Bronze Stars and four Good Conduct Medals, as well as other decorations for the time he served abroad, according to the Army Times, the Daily Mail reports.

A passenger on the aircraft recorded the moment Thomas' wife, Tara, came up to her husband's coffin on the tarmac - and later said the widow had told her to share the video so viewers would understand the sacrifices made by military families.

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The footage shows soldiers respectfully taking Thomas' coffin off of the airplane while the person recording sheds tears.

Tara, all dressed in black, can be seen through the rain-splattered window walking up to her husband's remains and placing her hands on the American flag, lowering her forehead to the coffin.

More family members then gather around her, their sorrow apparent.

"It was an honor to fly home with this PATRIOT!" Lisa West Williams, who shared the video on Facebook, wrote. "God bless his wife and family. There was not a dry eye around me."

The clip has now been viewed more than seven million times, with dozens of comments thanking Thomas for his service and presenting their condolences to his family.

The woman who filmed the video said Tara (pictured with her husband) had thanked her for the footage and wanted her to share it so the public would know of his sacrifice. Photo / Facebook
The woman who filmed the video said Tara (pictured with her husband) had thanked her for the footage and wanted her to share it so the public would know of his sacrifice. Photo / Facebook

Williams told WNCT that Tara had thanked her for the footage and wanted it to be posted for others to see.

"She wanted people to realise that this goes on every day," Williams said.

"There are many men and women that come home in a casket and they've made the ultimate sacrifice for us."

The passenger recalled hearing someone else on the aircraft saying, as Thomas' coffin was brought out, "Oh, another angel is coming home."

Thomas was part of a group of soldiers deployed to central Africa to work with Nigerian soldiers against terrorism and counter Boko Haram.

A spokesman told the Army Times he couldn't give more details regarding the accident that took Thomas' life due to an ongoing investigation.

The warrant officer had become a member of the armed forces in 2000 and served seven times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He received a Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal after his death, recognising the work he had conducted in Niger.

An obituary for Thomas states that 'under his big beard, tattoos and giant muscles there was a small town Oklahoma boy that was grounded by his faith, strong values, and family'.

The soldier is survived by his wife, their four children, his parents, as well as his brother and half-sister.