American Airlines is celebrating a historic milestone for the Honour Flight Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing veterans with once-in-a-lifetime trips to visit the nation’s capital and the memorials erected in honour of all those who have worn the US military uniform.
To commemorate the occasion, American also announced a donation of 15 million AAdvantage® miles to support and sustain the Honor Flight Network’s ongoing mission.
On May 2, Flagship Valor — American’s newly dedicated Airbus A321 aircraft, which serves as a flying tribute to recipients of the Medal of Honor — departed from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with the 250,000th participant in the Honor Flight program, two Medal of Honor recipients and more than a hundred World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.
The veterans were accompanied throughout their journey by Honor Flight guardians and other volunteers, including American team members and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, who helped pass out refreshments and care for those on board while in flight.
“I’m honored to participate in this week’s hero’s welcome celebrating and thanking Arizona veterans for their service and sacrifice to our state and country. I’m grateful for Honor Flight Network’s and American’s efforts in honoring veterans and bringing them to our nation’s capital,” Sinema said.
On arrival at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, American team members provided a hero’s welcome — complete with a water cannon salute and cheering crowds — as participants deplaned for two days of activities.
Supporting future Honor Flight missions
The following day, Honor Flight Network leadership and volunteers; U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Jerry Moran; U.S. Congressman Mark Takano; Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Donald Remy; and former Senator Elizabeth Dole, gathered with the veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the program’s milestone achievement.
“Since launching in 2005, the Honor Flight Network has carried more than a quarter-million veterans on flights to Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, there are still more than 50,000 veterans across the country with an expressed and time-sensitive desire to participate in a future mission,” said Matthew Shuman, Chairman of the Board for the Honor Flight Network.
To help the Honor Flight Network achieve its mission, American announced it will donate 15 million AAdvantage miles over three years to support and expand the reach of the program.
“The American Airlines team takes great pride in serving veterans on the many Honor Flights operated annually to our nation’s capital and in caring for all those who have and continue to serve in the U.S. military,” said Nate Gatten, Chief Government Affairs Officer for American. “It is our hope that such a contribution can help the Honor Flight Network fulfill its mission of celebrating America’s veterans, ensuring each experience the honor, gratitude and support they deserve.”
Celebrating Military Appreciation Month
Throughout May, American is celebrating the service and sacrifice of U.S. service members and their families through one-of-a-kind experiences across the country. Later this week, American will host Salute to the Troops in partnership with the USO — flying 20 service members battling cancer from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, to Walt Disney World with their families for a weekend of memories and fun. Then, in support of Seats for Sailors and Armed Forces Day, American will treat sailors from Naval Medical Center San Diego to a VIP experience with the Texas Rangers. American will also sponsor a similar experience at Rangers Stadium for Gold Star families from North Texas in commemoration of Memorial Day.