Pictures are worth a thousand words and the following photographs say it all! Last Tuesday, the Southwest Employees in Phoenix gave a great send off to veterans of Operation Freedom Bird on their way to recognize Veterans Day at the Capitol. Little did the Vietnam veterans know that a celebration was being planned for them when they returned.
We put together a Welcome Home Ceremony for the returning veterans and invited friends and family along with past beneficiaries of the trip. When the aircraft arrived back in PHX, it was met with a water cannon salute from the Fire Department at Sky Harbor International. Once back inside, the veterans of the 2010 Operation Freedom Bird arrived home to cheers, hugs, and kisses from their loved ones.
With about 350 in attendance, the event kicked off with the Presentation of the Colors by Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard.
The highlight of the celebration for many was country recording artist Aaron Tippin who sang “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” as well as his hit “You’ve Got to Stand for Something.”
This was the 12th year Southwest Airlines has sponsored the Operation Freedom Bird trip for the Vietnam veterans who, for the first time this year, took along an Afghanistan and Iraq veteran. “I feel this was the best Operation Freedom Bird yet,” said Tim Magary, Southwest Lead Plant Maintenance Mechanic. “What was said, sung, and played this year, was so heartfelt that it made me proud to be a part of it. “ For more information on Operation Freedom Bird visit http://www.operationfreedombird.org/.