For those of us who live near family and friends, it’s easy to take for granted a hug from a loved one. Even when we have family in another state (like I do), it’s comforting to know that they are just a plane ride away, but our Military Heroes know just how meaningful a hug and a welcome home celebration can be. Recently, Southwest Airlines had the opportunity to once again partner with Operation Freedom Bird (OFB) and give 50 Veterans the honor and welcome home celebration they deserved!
The Veterans’ families and friends, previous recipients of the trip, and, of course, our very own Southwest Employees gathered in the Southwest Airlines Maintenance Hangar to give the Veterans an experience they’ll never forget. Operation Freedom Bird, a non-profit organization founded 25 years ago by Vietnam Veteran Patrick Lynch. Each year the program provides a healing journey to Washington D.C. to celebrate Veterans Day for the retired military heroes. The group consists primarily of Vietnam Veterans, but with the success of the organization, recent attendees now include a number of Veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. Each year Operation Freedom Bird works with the Arizona Veterans Center who carefully selects the Veterans for the trip.
In order to make this amazing trip a reality, Operation Freedom Bird raises funds to cover ground transportation, food, and hotels for the trip, and air fare is sponsored by Southwest Airlines, so the Veterans themselves do not have to spend a dime. Southwest Airlines has been a proud sponsor for 14 years. This year, the group had the opportunity to visit the War Memorials including The Wall to honor their fallen comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.
Our Veterans Day is made extra special because of the heroes from Operation Freedom Bird that we Welcome Home each year. Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary.
For more information on Operation Freedom Bird, please visit http://www.operationfreedombird.org.