Published on : Friday, April 8, 2016
Miami International Airport, in partnership with Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines, hosted its second annual Honor Flight for 154 World War II and Vietnam War veterans on Saturday, April 2. The Honor Flight event culminated with a homecoming at MIA, where more than 2,000 South Floridians gathered to take part in a massive receiving line that included local residents of all ages, local elected officials and members of the U.S. military, numerous honor guards, airport employees and passengers.
Some of the dignitaries in attendance to honor the veterans were: Miami-Dade County Commissioner José “Pepe” Díaz; Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt; Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser Pedro García; Admiral Kurt Tidd, Commander Southern Command; Brigadier General Kevin M. Liams, Commander Marine Corps Forces; South Brigadier General Paul J. Rock, Jr., Director of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, Southern Command Command; and Sergeant Major William Zaiser, Senior Enlisted Leader, Southern Command.
After departing MIA Saturday morning on Eastern Air Lines flight #1941 (named for the year that the U.S. entered World War II), the 77 living legends received tours of the World War II and Korean War memorials and other military sites in the nation’s capital – many for the first time in their lives. On the return trip aboard flight #1945 (the last year of the war), nearly 3,000 personalized thank-you letters collected at MIA from airlines, federal agencies and other airport tenants, as well as from local school children and civic organizations, were distributed to the veterans during a traditional “mail call” for deployed soldiers. The Miami-Dade Aviation Department spearheaded the letter-writing campaign and gained support from more than a dozen airport and community partners.
“We were extremely honored to host our second annual Honor Flight at MIA, and we look forward to hosting additional flights in the future,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “These brave men and women fought for the many freedoms we enjoy today, and they certainly deserve events like the Honor Flight that salute their service. They were truly The Greatest Generation, yet many of them never received a homecoming like this. We were proud to partner with Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines to provide them this memorable experience.”