Strains of patriotic songs played throughout the main concourse in Chicago as the 29 Palms Marine band entertained customers in May. The band was just one part of a ceremony cooridinated by AA to honor U.S. Marines. The concert was followed by a military color guard marching down the hallway and ending up at Gate K3.
AA's Veterans Military Employee Resource Group (VMERG), led by Officer Linda Kozma, dedicated the gate to the Marine Corps during their first ever "Marine Week." Marine Week celebrates the heritage and service of Marines past and present. During the week, 2,000 Marines participated in community volunteer projects, Marine Band concerts, exhibitions of marine equipment and more on Navy Pier and other city locations.
Tim Raynor, AA pilot and Lieutenant Colonel organized the entire fleet week. Raynor took six weeks off from AA to coordinate the event, working closely with the ORD VMERG to create the gate ceremony.
"I'm very proud to be an employee of American today, just seeing the courtesy that's been extended to the Marine Corps, an organization that I love," said Raynor. "That is where I started." AA employee veterans enjoyed the combination of military and AA traditions. "This is a good example of actions and deeds," said Arizo Ghaewski, Chairman, Local 512 Veteran's Committee. "Everybody says 'support the troops', well how do you support the troops? By just words? Well, this ceremony showed action."
Boston Military Group Honors AA for Its Long-Standing Support of U.S. Armed Forces The Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (AHAC), the oldest chartered military organization in North America, recognized American Airlines and its Boston-based employees for their service to the U.S. armed forces. American received the special award during AHAC's Ancients USO Night, its annual fund-raiser benefitting the USO New England.
"We remain humbled and in awe of the sacrifices our veterans and active military make in service to our country," said Jim Moses, American's General Manager at Boston. "These men and women are true heroes, and all of our efforts to support the military and their families is our way of saying thank you for their courage and dedication."
American's 1,900 Boston-based employees, along with their colleagues across the airline's system, support members of the military, veterans and their families, in their communities and when they travel. Special travel benefits include waived baggage fees, discounts on leisure travel, early boarding, preferred seating upgrades when available, Admirals Club admission for qualifying active members of the military, and travel sponsorship for Medal of Honor Recipients to their annual awards program.
In 2008, an American Boeing 757 and 737 were unveiled, with the tails of the two aircraft proudly sporting yellow-ribbon decals and the slogan, "In support of all who serve," on their fuselages. These two aircraft, along with a dedicated American Eagle ATR aircraft, are currently in service and are a daily reminder of AA's commitment to all of the troops currently serving the United States, as well as the thousands of American Airlines and American Eagle employees who are veterans or active service members.
American is the official airline of the National Memorial Day Parade, scheduled for May 25, 2009 at 2:00 on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. Last year's parade drew over 300,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience. Just over 10 percent of American Airlines employees and over 65 percent of AA pilots are veterans.
AA joined the Academy of Country Music, West Point Choir and the Wounded Warrior Project to fly the West Point Choir and a wounded Iraq soldier to Las Vegas to participate in the Country Music Awards. 52 members of the West Point Choir traveled in uniform with one special Iraq soldier, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Andrew Kindard.
In April 2007, about six weeks into his deployment in Iraq, Kindard lost both of his legs and suffered a laundry list of severe injuries when a 155 mm artillery shell that he was standing directly on top of was detonated. The days after the blast took Kindard to several medical facilities. He went into cardiac arrest multiple times and, immediately following the explosion, was issued 67 units of blood – before eventually arriving at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Prior to the flight's arrival in Las Vegas (LAS), Agents Chris Johnson and Patti Ruiz made announcements inviting passengers in the gate area to assist them in welcoming him. It wasn't long before hundreds of passengers gathered around gate D8; many with cameras in hand. As he wheeled off the jet bridge into the lounge area, the huge crowd erupted in cheers and applause bringing an amazing ear-to-ear grin to Kindard's face and tears to the eyes of most of those present. It was a welcome that Lt. Kinard will not soon forget.
On May 30, American will fly 150 soldiers and their families to Austin for a private rodeo, country music performance, bass tournament and wild game hunt. AA is partnering with Lochow Ranch, the Patriot Fund and America's Huey 091 Foundation, to honor our wounded warriors and troops returning from the war.
AA is a corporate sponsor of the Patriot Fund to raise money to provide iBOT Mobility Systems to severely wounded soldiers. The iBOTs are manufactured by Independence Technology L.L.C., and they can climb stairs, elevate to standing level and drive over rough terrain. The Patriot Fund had has provided independence to wounded soldiers who received iBOTs.
The event will be kicked off USO style in the tradition of the late Bob Hope with entertainment landing at the ranch in a Blackhawk helicopter escorted by Apache gunships courtesy of the Texas National Guard. They will do a brief flyover and land at the ranch with the emcee and singers walking off the helicopter, to the stage and kicking off the event.
On the second day, 20 of the iBOT alumni and families will compete in a bass fishing tournament with official weigh-ins and prizes. Each iBOT soldier will have a staff member assigned with fishing tailored to their capabilities.
Orion films will be filming the weekend's events for ESPN and Versus. They plan to select a soldier to do some background on his service, and then film him and his family at the event through his eyes including travel with AA.
A great event, and the newly formed AA Veterans and Military Employee Resource Group will be participating.
**Scheduled arrival time is 8:00am at Gate D22, but call the number below for updates.**
Feel free to forward to anyone who might be interested in participating.
Also please sign up via American Volunteers on JetNet as described below to track our community participation. (Hit the purple Volunteer Now button)
Welcome home banners, signs are encouraged.
Let me know if you would like to be added to the Veterans and Military ERG distribution list to participate in events like these.
We are welcoming the troop’s home at DFW!
When: April 17, 2009
Where: Terminal D Outside International Security Gate 22 (ground Floor)
Call: 972-574-0392 (for exact arrival time)
** free parking passes from the uso volunteers to greeters**
You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam. Your infantry unit is out numbered 8 – 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the Medi-Vac helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.
Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.
He's coming anyway.
And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses.
And, he kept coming back…. 13 more times….. And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.
Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman, died August 20, 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise, ID ……May God rest his soul….. I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing, but our media told us a whole bunch about some Hip-Hop coward beating the crap out of his "girlfriend".
Medal of Honor Winner Ed Freeman! Shame on the American Media.